Business goals

Use the “scoring rule” to choose the best business goals each quarter

I have found that setting goals with my team has been one of the most beneficial activities in my business. In fact, I’ve often said that if I only spent one week a year working on my business, I’d spend it all setting up goals with my team.

But no matter what goal setting framework you use or how many goals you set, the most important thing is to focus on the right goals for your business. When I consult with companies, I often find that they set goals based on instinct instead of looking critically at where they should put their efforts to move the business forward as quickly as possible.

I could write a whole book on this – and I’ve written a whole chapter on this in my next book, Come get some air — but for now, here are some surefire ways to choose the right goals for your business.

Correct your weaknesses

I always start the goal setting process by looking at the weaknesses in my business. This is where we have the most to gain, so it makes sense to set goals in these areas. In the words of Jay Abraham, I want to make sure we get everything we can out of everything we have before setting goals around new projects or initiatives.

My process is simple. At the start and end of each quarter, I give each department a simple grade – from A to F – based on its performance. It may be based on the metric, but that’s largely subjective. I consider how well the team works together, whether they are operating within their budget, how often deadlines are missed, etc.

At the start of each term, I look at the grades from each department. This gives me a clear idea of ​​where we need to focus our efforts and, digging a little deeper, what kind of goals we might want to set for the upcoming quarter.

For example, if the marketing team is underperforming, I would investigate why. If they are understaffed, we might set a goal to hire a new member of the marketing team. If they are hampered by technical limitations, we might aim to find a better tool and implement it. If we need to produce more content, we might aim to open up a new content stream or speed up content production in an area.

It’s a simple way for me to analyze where we’re underperforming and then work with my team to come up with possible solutions. These solutions then materialize into clear goals for my team to work towards in the next quarter.

Find your strengths

Once our weaknesses are dealt with, I will then look at what is going well. I like to incorporate some advice from Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach and an entrepreneurial legend.

He often tells entrepreneurs to work harder on what they do best by asking a few simple questions, like:

  1. What are your best deals?
  2. What are your greatest strengths?
  3. How can you develop them?
  4. What would be the very next action to take to make this happen?
  5. And who should be responsible for it?

With that, I can look at the last quarter to see where our strengths are and what’s going well. I can then double that by setting goals that will push our top performing departments even higher.

These objectives may concern the development of new products that would be added to already successful products or the pursuit of the improvement of an already successful sales process. I will always jump at the chance to double down on what works, rather than investing time and money into something that may or may not produce results.

Use the right framework

At Leverage, we implement our goals with a framework called OKR, which has been famously used at companies like Google, Intel, and Uber. There are many similar goal setting frameworks out there, but one of the reasons I love OKRs is that they can turn even the most subjective goal into something clear and measurable.

This is an important factor to consider, as it means you can clarify more subjective goals like “improve the efficiency of our operations team” or “create a better version of our sales process”. With OKRs, these types of goals are clarified by aligning as a team on key results based on metrics that, when achieved, will prove that the team has achieved the larger goal.

Whether or not you use OKRs, the lesson is simple. At the start of each quarter, set aside time to address your weaknesses, double down on your strengths, and use a goal setting system that will make it very clear whether you and your team have achieved your goals or not.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.