Business goals

Are you unable to achieve your business goals? Here’s how to track goal progress

Companies that don’t track their business goals in real time are far less likely to achieve them, but the majority fail to do so.

In theory, a business goal should be a helpful tool designed to guide you to your desired outcome. However, too often, business goals are used less as practical goals and more as wish lists for leaders. Exceeding objectives, in particular, are becoming an increasingly common trend in business. These extremely ambitious goals are designed to impress the public, not to be achieved.

But stretch goals are only a symptom of a larger problem. The problem is not so much with the goals themselves as with not regularly checking in on progress. Small and medium-sized businesses that track their growth goals in real time, meet them, according to research from Censuswide and Geckoboard almost twice as often than those that don’t, yet only 1 in 10 companies actually track their goals.

If you’re serious about the goals you’re proposing for your business, you need to be equally serious about tracking the progress of your goals at regular intervals. A business goal, after all, is a destination – if you fail to stay on the path to it, it will always be far away.

How to reach your goals by focusing on the journey, not the destination

When you set a goal for the future, it can be easy to think that the goal is the thing you need to keep an eye on. In reality, however, an effective goal assessment strategy is one that focuses on the process rather than the end goal. In my company, for example, our ultimate goal is to buy businesses, but that’s not necessarily a good goal. Instead, we think about the processes we want to go through to achieve that goal, making sure the whole team is on board. Then we determine how to evaluate the progress of our goals by creating measurable components in the process.

When you dive deep into the mechanics of the business, you can play an active role in determining what aspects of the organization are critical and what needs to change. It is a key factor in creating an agile company capable of achieving the objectives it has set for itself and change quickly these targets if necessary.

But how can you use this approach to help you better achieve your long-term business goals? Here’s how to measure your progress toward your goals in four steps:

  1. Assess where you are right now.
    Before you can measure your progress in the future, you need to figure out where you are now. What are your current goals? Do they still match the direction you want your business to take? If not, what goals should you set for yourself instead?

    Figure out what steps you should have taken by now and see how the business stacks up against the real thing. Have you managed to meet your deadlines so far? Do you even have regular deadlines or goal metrics in place? Reviewing your current progress can help you move forward with a clear view of what’s working, what’s not, and what’s missing.

  2. Develop and support your key initiatives.
    Key initiatives are one of the most crucial elements for knowing how to measure your progress towards your goals. Decide which areas of work need to be completed to achieve each goal. Once you have your initiatives, you can develop goal metrics around them, turning your strategic vision into smart, actionable business goals.

    From there, you need to provide the necessary training and tools for employees to not only do the job, but also to understand their role in the company’s strategic vision. Check in regularly, offering feedback and coaching from managers to keep everyone on the same page. Playing an active role in achieving key initiatives will help you achieve them faster and give you a better sense of where you are in the process.

  3. Break down key initiatives into short-term goals for your business.
    Long-term business goals give you something to strive for, but short-term goals are what keep things going. Many companies’ primary goals (such as revenue growth) are for the next year. So what goals should you set throughout the year to be successful?

    Shorter goals are the measurable units that inform your progress and hold people accountable. Each objective should have a manager responsible for its success who will inform you at the next checkpoint. These short-term goals should flow from your key initiatives, breaking down these large areas of work into more manageable pieces.

  4. Make the necessary adjustments.
    In many ways, the ability to change is even more important than achieving your goals. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, the companies most capable of change were much more profitable than those who had trouble adapting.
    The company is dynamic. If a situation changes, your goals and strategy may also need to change. Although you have a particular strategic goal at heart, if it no longer aligns with your long-term vision or the reality of your business situation, it needs to be adjusted.

Setting and tracking business goals is critical to the success of your business. By the end of these steps, you should have a goal assessment process that can be easily tracked and monitored. Because each step of the process has clear guidelines and responsible parties, you can easily measure your progress while keeping an eye on the industry to adapt.


Written by Nick McLean.

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