In my corporate career I spent a lot of time on goal setting. My company spent even more money on goal setting. Over time, as I progressed into leadership positions, I started to try to dig in and see if the effort was all worth it or not.
I started to believe it wasn’t. I saw all the hours and money spent as a waste of resources. Time and time again I saw the same problem: The best laid plans are only as good as the execution, and I wasn’t seeing the follow through. It appeared there was an overall lack of accountability organizationally towards the goals the company set. That lack of accountability trickled downhill. The sales representatives I worked with did not feel like they were being held accountable to their goals, therefore, they did not believe they had to do anything to work towards them on a daily, monthly, or even quarterly basis.
Or so that is what I thought…Overtime, I realized accountability wasn’t exactly the issue. Ownership and understanding were. Let’s take each one individually.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Ownership as “The state, relation, or fact of being an owner”. The problem our organization had was that the front-line sales team did not “own” the number. Their goals were given to them.
From my experience, when things are given to others, they don’t have the sense of pride and ownership in it as they would if they developed and created it themselves. When companies give quotas to sales representatives without their input, they are taking away one of their largest strategic advantages – a sense of ownership.
So, “what can we do about this?” You might ask… Or “how can I not give quotas to my team? We have a number to hit!”
I can empathize with that. With that said, you would be surprised by the goals your team sets for themselves if they have the opportunity. Additionally, they will need the training on how to do it effectively and efficiently. You must start with the needs based goals vs the wants based goals. Needs are far more motivating than wants. At the end of the year we find that “wants” based goals are far too easy to just “erase off the board”.
An example of this may be: “I want a new house” vs. I need a new house because have a baby on the way and are running out of room. The baby on the way will be far more motivating for an individual than just buying a house for an upgrade.
Start with your employee and discern what they need personally and professionally. Assuming you are a commission based organization, identify how much money he/she needs to keep the lights on at home, and how much additional income he/she needs from commissions to obtain his/her personal goals. Then work your way into how much activity is needed to meet that goal and break it down to a daily based activity goal. By doing so you will have more ownership from a tactical perspective from your employee on achieving that goal. If the goal is shy of the quota that you would otherwise given to them, you now have a tough conversation to be had. However, it is better to have it at the beginning of the year rather than the end. Would you agree?
That addresses the technical components of goal setting, but what about the conceptual components? We believe it is what is between your ears that gets in your way more often than not. Even though your team may have an effective and efficient goal process, if you don’t break through their conceptual problems the odds of achieving that goal are diminished greatly.
To put this into context let me provide an example for you:
I had a client that came to me with a very important end of year goal that he wanted to hit. It is something that he had achieved in the past and wanted to achieve it again. We went through the exercise I outlined above, and we discerned that he needed to make 10 phone calls per day to existing clients for the rest of the year to guarantee he hit his goal. I underline “guarantee” because that is a very powerful word. That said, we knew based upon historical data from his personal closing ratios for this product, if he did the behaviors it was literally a guarantee that he would meet his goal.
Do you think he hit it?
In this case, unfortunately, he did not. Even with the level of importance being a 10 out of 10 (10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest) he still did not hit his goal from a behavioral standpoint. When I asked him a series of questions to discern why we thought this may be, we eventually uncovered that he did not feel comfortable with the “talk track” that he needed to have down to have these conversations. It was that “head trash” that was holding him back. Even though he knew he needed to do the behaviors to hit his goal, he could not get his mind in the right place to accomplish it.
Does this resonate with you or any of your team members? As I look back historically, it sure did for me. I more often failed as a leader to connect the dots between the technical aspects of goal setting and the conceptual aspects of goal setting for my people. Unfortunately, I’m not alone in this, as this is pervasive through many corporate organizations.
“What if I’ve done my job as a coach addressing the technical and conceptual challenges of goal setting and my team still is not meeting their goals?” You might ask…
What we have found is typically at that point in time it is due to your employee not really understanding and knowing how to reinforce their goals on a daily or weekly basis. All too often goals are put into the “set and forget” category.
Your employees need a methodology to keep their goals top of mind throughout the year. The way you can train them to do this is through daily journaling, or the 4-1-1 process.
A good journaling strategy that we deploy is the following:
- Positive affirmations. (speaking as if you’ve already achieved your long-term goal)
- What are you grateful for? (micro-goals that you accomplished the day before)
- What are you trying to attract? (mid-term goals that you have set for yourself – typically monthly or quarterly)
- What have you committed to? (short-term goals – often daily or weekly)
Had I been taught the above-mentioned journaling process when I was in corporate America, I know my success level would have been dramatically higher in achieving and upholding my goals. I know my teams would have had the same success as well. Does it make sense to try it? What do you have to lose?
The other goal setting process is the 4-1-1. I can’t take credit for this one. This is something that we have borrowed from Gary Keller of Keller Williams Real Estate. Keller Williams teaches all their representatives to keep a weekly goal setting sheet called the 4-1-1. The premise is every week to sit down and re-write what your annual goals are, what you are doing this month to work towards those goals, and what you are doing each week within the month to achieve those goals. We, along with our clients, have found this to be a tremendous supplemental tool to keep us on track with the longer-term goals in addition to the journaling process. Perhaps you will too. If you’re interested in downloading this tool and learning more about it, you can click here to get a free downloadable version of it from Keller Williams. They have some other great resources there as well.
We’ve just turned the page on a new year. What are you and your team doing to do to ensure you achieve the goals you set for 2018? If you are like me and believe in the statistic that people with written goals are 50% more likely to achieve them than people without written goals, then it’s clear what you and your team should do. It is astonishing that 83% of the US population does not have written goals, I challenge you to try it. Look internally at your organization and break down the reason behind the problem and you might be surprised with what you find.
If you or your organization could use an outside expert to work with your team on effective and efficient goal setting, we’d love to have a conversation. Lift Consulting is a sales consulting firm that works on improving sales minded organizational growth through Skills Development, Structure and Strategy refinement, and Staffing Solutions. Click here to contact us for a free consultation and or learn more about our goal setting process and how we are working to set ourselves up for success in 2018.