In 1979, a study was conducted at Harvard University among graduate students enrolled in the MBA program. The students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future? If so, how do you plan to accomplish them?” Only 3% had written goals with action plans, 13% had goals in mind, but did not write them down, and the other 84% had no specific goals at all. Ten years later, the same group of individuals was interviewed again. The 13% who had goals in mind, but did not write them down, were earning twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. More notably, the 3% who had written goals with action plans were earning an average of ten times more than the other 97% combined.
My colleagues and I have spoken about this study a number of times. It’s intriguing to me because it shows how something that’s seemingly so simple can have such a profound impact on your business. And on the reverse side, it shows how many people just don’t do it!
Why Set Goals for Your Business?
Setting goals in the workplace gives your business long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your efforts and helps you organize your time and resources so that you can make the very most of your business. At Heartland Dental, everyone from our supported offices to our executive team writes down their individual goals for the year. Additionally, we create company goals, so that everyone knows what our company is striving to accomplish. Business goal setting and allowing your team to be part of those goals will not only propel you forward and provide you with direction, it will bring everyone together as a unified front.
Start Setting Your Goals
The best way to set goals is by using the SMART format.
- Specific: Define the goal in as much detail as possible. A specific goal has a better chance of being accomplished than a general goal. You’ll want to include:
- Who will be involved?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- When will it be accomplished?
- Where will it be done?
- Why do you want to accomplish this goal?
- Which restrictions or restraints do you foresee?
- Measurable: What tools will you use to measure how successful or unsuccessful your goal is? Can you track the progress of the outcome? How will you know when your goal is accomplished?
- Attainable: On a scale of 1-10, how attainable is your goal? Be sure your goal is realistic, yet not below standard performance.
- Relevant/Return on Investment: Will your goal meet your personal needs and/or the needs of your business? Is your goal relevant to your other goals? In a business setting, we also like to look at return on investment. Will this goal aid in your ROI? If not, is it worthwhile? If yes, why?
- Timely: Establishing a time to complete your goal will force you to address it. Try to be as specific as possible. By when should your goal be completed?
Actively remind yourself of your goals - don't just file them away in a Word document you'll never see again. Display your list of goals in a place where you'll notice them regularly. When you have achieved one of your goals, take time to enjoy it. Absorb that feeling of accomplishment you experience when you achieve your goal. You deserve it and rewarding yourself or taking time to enjoy it will give you motivation to set and achieve other goals. Business goal setting is not a one-time event.
If you don’t have goals set for your business, it’s not too late to start! Decide how your business will grow in the next year and beyond, and find the tools you will need to achieve your goals. If you have experienced the joy of accomplishing your goals, encourage others to write goals and help them see how beneficial goal setting in the workplace can be for their business.
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