With the arrival of the New Year, the Tuchman Advisory Group begins the process of setting goals for 2018 and evaluating how we fared in accomplishing our 2017 goals. At our February meeting we will delineate our main goals and stretch goals. Annual goals should always support your company’s mission statement and guiding principles.
The following is from the files of industry legend and T.A.G. founder Sid Tuchman entitled Goal-Setting: Fantasy or Reality.
“As business people, what can be our biggest frustration? We set up powerful images in our heads about what we want to be:
< We want to exceed our customers’ expectations
< We want to develop a work-force that is loyal, motivated, highly productive, technically proficient, and has very, very little turnover
< We WANT to maximize our profits and make 20-30% on sales or 30% ROI
< We HOPE for sales increases of 20-30% for the year
Wonderful goals, but are they realistic or are they fantasies? Is it possible that:
< There may be a painful gulf between the goals we set and what we actually achieve
< We don’t exceed customers’ expectations – quality is not up to par, clothes are late, buttons missing, etc., etc.
< We keep inferior performers and experience excessive turnover. We end up just pressing clothes instead of managing and leading the business
< Profit and sales goals are missed.
Use the following Critical Success Factors when deciding your goals:
< Financial stability
< Exceed our targeted customers’ expectations
< A skilled, motivated, and loyal workforce
< Search for new business opportunities, sites, services and products
< A creative marketing plan to assure profitable annual sales increases.
T.A.G. continues to utilize the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal-setting. There are many ways to set goals, but the S.M.A.R.T. technique is one of the most popular and simplest to implement. George T. Doran first proposed this method in an article entitled There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives, published in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. The S.M.A.R.T. method is often referred to and associated with Peter Drucker’s popular Management by Objectives concept.
The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
• Specific – target a specific area for improvement. Goal should be defined, focused, and stated clearly.
• Measurable – you need to be able to quantify an indicator of progress. A measurable goal should include milestones and targets.
• Attainable – don’t set a goal that is out of reach or not realistic. Include a plan that breaks down the overall goal into smaller, more manageable action steps.
• Relevant – state what results make sense given the available resources and current conditions of your industry.
• Time-based – goals cannot be chronologically open-ended. Whether you want to increase revenue by 10% or add 2 new routes, specify when the result will be achieved.
You may already have your goals in mind for 2018. If not, here are some ideas and questions to help you get started:
• Profitability. Everyone wants to run a profitable business. Objectives to attain for example, the goal of increasing annual sales by 15% could be to acquire 5 new route accounts each quarter.
• Branding. Make sure your company has a Mission Statement that everyone understands.
• Customer Service. Your goals could include: wanting to resolve all customer complaints within a certain time period, insuring that all customers receive a return email/phone call by the end of the business day, hiring more employees for your customer service department by end of year and increase on-time clothes ready performance.
• Efficiency and Productivity. Evaluate your piece per hour. Advertise pick-up and delivery availability with apps.
• Growth. Perhaps your goal is to add one to two more dry stores to your business operation. Develop uniform rental, shoe cleaning or restoration businesses at your company.
• Employee Retention. Implement a 90-day training program for new hires. Institute weekly meetings with employees to find out their ideas. This could help to decrease a current high turnover rate. Do employees know your company’s Mission Statement and do you review it with them regularly? Do you know details such as their names, goals, fears, talents, needs and concerns about your employees? Do you ask co-workers, your boss, employees and/or customers for comments and feedback? Do your employees have clearly defined goals and tasks? Can they measure how they are progressing and their accountability? Are rewards and recognition part of your well organized strategic plan? How do you celebrate when someone is doing a great job? Is your company well known as an exceptionally good place to work?
• Leadership Qualities. It starts at the top! What is your definition of accountability?
• You may want to examine your authority, how you use it, and ways to improve. If something is working, make sure you are repeating those actions. Look at your productivity and decide what you want to stop and/or continue doing. Evaluate the performance of your systems. Are there areas that could use new ones or are there areas that work best without a system?
• Personal: Do you have your own personal Mission Statement? (The main rule for a personal Mission Statement is that it inspire you.)
Now that the basics for S.M.A.R.T. goals are clear, it is important to think about what should not be done to make your goal-setting technique as efficient as possible. Here are eight common mistakes small business owners make when setting goals:
1. Procrastination – Goal-setting can be overwhelming, so if you wait for the perfect time to start, many months will be wasted. Assign a due date.
2. Making sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. – if you haven’t used the specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based guideline, you may end up with goals that you can’t fulfill.
3. Not keeping them visible – Small-business owners are constantly busy with numerous tasks, which can lead to overlooked commitments. Setting a goal at the beginning of the year and not reviewing it every few months is a recipe for failure. All goals should be in writing, with action steps for achieving them.
4. Not being flexible – Stay open to new realities and adjust as needed. Maybe the resources available for the initial goal are lost and new opportunities take their place. Things happen, you get new information. Nothing is set in stone; if need be, change goals accordingly.
5. Lack of resources – Be realistic: make sure there is money in the budget and/or available employees needed to accomplish the task.
6. Create myriad goals – Setting one goal is not enough, ten is too many. Find a number that is manageable for you.
7. Forgetting to acknowledge successes – It takes effort and organization from beginning to end to reach goals. It is important to acknowledge the successes in between. This tracking will insure motivation along the way, making the final acknowledgment more exciting.
8. Focusing only on work goals – Be sure to set goals that bring you personal joy. For example, read more books, or enter an athletic competition. Goals should be stated in a positive way. If someone’s goal is “not to work late,” the positive way would be “spend more time with family.”
Once you have written down your goals, it is imperative that some kind of system for setting and tracking your goals be implemented. Some ideas include:
• Notebook – Keeping your goal-list in a simple spiral notebook, checking on progress, and crossing off as needed.
• Excel or Google Spreadsheets – Create your own format.
• Combination Dry-Erase/Cork Board – Use color-coded markers and Post-its on the board and hang in the office for everyone to monitor progress.
• GoalsOnTrack, Goalscape, GoalEnforcer – On-line tracking tools.
• Pinterest.com – Great ideas for goal-setting worksheets and charts.
We focus mostly on attainable goals but definitely include a few “stretch or reach” goals, ones that push you to think beyond what is possible. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, once said, “By reaching for what appears to be the impossible, we often actually do the impossible. And even when we do not quite make it, we inevitably wind up doing much better than we would have done.”
A stretch goal is a deliberate attempt to reach for the unreachable, a goal so outlandish that it cannot be achieved simply by working harder or longer. Many of Jack Welch’s stretch goals were not fully achieved. However, virtually everyone who embraced stretch goals during Welch’s tenure at G.E. achieved significantly greater gains than they imagined they would. They may technically have “failed,” but they failed forward and at a higher level than they thought possible. Stretch goals require courage and passion and a willingness to abandon excuses.
As 2018 will be filled with exciting challenges, establishing goals will help us all in the year ahead.