The Importance of Goals
There’s an old joke; I think it might have been a Dilbert cartoon. The boss comes in and says, “Build me an app that will make me a million dollars.” “What do you want it to do?” asks the employee. “Make me a million dollars!” the boss repeats and leaves. What a brilliant example of the difference between vision and goals!
Vision is certainly important for an entrepreneur — for all business leaders, really. But just having a vision isn’t enough. You have to set goals to help make that vision a reality and then take action to achieve those objectives.
My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things.
Goals help focus your business, but only if your team understands the why behind them and how they need to work to meet them. A great way to start is including representatives from every level of your organization in the goal-setting process. Inclusion also promotes buy-in, an essential factor in achieving shared objectives.
Once goals are finalized, make sure that everyone knows what they are and understands how their work contributes to overall success. Holding regular meetings to share progress and discuss what needs to be done next to keep moving forward can help everyone stay on track. How frequently you need to meet depends on the time frame of the project. Just be sure that you don’t spend more time talking about your goals than working to achieve them!
When someone comes along who genuinely thanks us, we will follow that person a very long way.
Alan Loy McGinnis
Once you’ve established your goals and communicated them with your team, you need to keep everyone motivated to meet those goals. People have different reasons why they work, so tailor your incentives to their needs. Most people enjoy hearing encouraging words and receiving little fun rewards along the way. Recognizing individuals’ contributions in public for colleagues and clients is also a great motivator.
But others are working to make ends meet. For them, monetary rewards can be more meaningful. A small bonus for the completion of a project or at the end of a fiscal quarter — something as simple as a gift card for a favorite restaurant will do — can provide a big morale boost. Of course, if you’re able to give larger bonuses, all the better!
By helping employees meet their practical and emotional needs, you encourage them to stay with your company and continue working to meet your shared goals.
A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.
If you aren’t able to reach some of your goals, it’s not the end of the world. It simply gives you something to reach for. Setting goals that are a little higher than what you actually want to achieve encourages you to stretch yourself and your team, hence the name. And if you actually achieve that higher mark, life is good!
Just be sure to make it clear to everyone on your team that these are stretch goals. Otherwise, you risk de-motivating your team with “unreasonable” demands.
Take your time in coming up with your goals. Rushing through the process can result in fuzzy or unrealistic goals that only lead to disappointment in yourself and others. On the other hand, choosing thoughtfully and wisely helps you to become a focused leader able to motivate your team to achieve success beyond their — and maybe even your — expectations.
For more great ideas for how to achieve your goals, check out this great video from Amber Wuollett, 4 Steps to Achieve Your Goals.
Ted’s commitment to personal improvement has shaped his life and career. For over 20 years, he led ILSA’s innovative professional development program in addition to playing a active leadership role in the company. In 2016, he returned to his roots in broadcasting to host the Spot On Insurance podcast, which explores the latest trends in insurance and insurtech.
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