Five Tips For How Growing Companies Can Reach Their Goals

First appeared as a Forbes Coaches Council article on September 5, 2017.

An airplane seatmate recently told me that a major division of a Fortune 500 company held an all-hands meeting for its sales staff to announce the goal of growing its business by 20%. Sounds like a big goal, right?

In the same meeting, it was announced that bonuses would be eliminated. What? Salespeople are highly motivated by their bonuses. I wondered how this company could possibly get its employees excited about growing the business by 20% if they were no longer incentivized to do so?

This same leadership group held the expectation that sales teams meet twice a month with each of their 100 clients. Even if these employees did zero preparation and had no other tasks but to travel back and forth to clients, this establishes a 150-hour-a-week expectation. That’s never going to work!
It gets worse: For the teams that interface with customers after a sale, employee engagement is currently at an all-time low. These team members don’t know the overall goal of the company, constantly make mistakes and are driving a loss of business.

Do any of these factors support the 20% growth the company seeks? On the contrary, it’s driving the company’s best salespeople to look for jobs with competitors. So not only does this business have a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving its goal, but it will be lucky if it doesn’t see a downturn in revenue and retention this year.

You may be wondering how this set of circumstances could possibly exist at a Fortune 500 company. Sadly, this is more common than you think.

Well-meaning executive teams often race to set big goals without taking the time to evaluate feasibility, gain insights from those who would deliver on it, or ensure that they properly motivate employees to achieve results.

Every company wants to grow, but few address all the steps necessary to make it a roaring success. Instead of putting your company at massive risk like the company above did, follow these five steps to ensure that you both attain your goals and support a culture of employee and customer engagement.

1. Create The Goal

Give your goal a timeline and include both short- and long-term goals. People love to have clarity around a long-term vision and also need some intermediate goals that make them feel like they are winning along the way.

Be sure whatever you set is measurable so that everyone — from your front-line employees to your board of directors — knows how you are doing on the goal over time and exactly when it is achieved.

Be sure you can articulate why it is good for the company and why it is good for employees. Remember to evaluate any existing goals that may compete with the new goal, determine which take priority and adjust accordingly.

2. Confirm The Goal Is Realistic

Whatever you do, do not communicate the goal to your entire company until you’ve confirmed with your team that it’s achievable and that it makes sense from a customer perspective.

Engage representatives from the group of leaders and front-line employees who are critical to achieving the goal. Ask them what they think about the size, timing, and purpose of the goal and if they see any competing goals or other obstacles that you have not considered.

3. Communicate The Goal

Once you have tested the goal to ensure it is realistic, now — and only now — can you share the goal broadly. Be sure to include both what it means to the individual as well as to the company. This may mean making broad announcements about the goal as well as customizing messages to various areas so members of each team know what part they will play. When strategizing on a big goal, you may have one person or even an entire team dedicated to customizing messages throughout the organization.

4. Reward The Goal

Define a reward system for both intermediate goals and the overall goal. Growth initiatives take time, so choosing places to reward teams along the way will maintain momentum and keep them driving toward optimal results.

Consider both major rewards (bonuses and promotions) as well as tokens of appreciation (team celebrations and thank you messages).

Financially beneficial rewards will retain your best people, but don’t forget about emotionally beneficial rewards. The latter are the icing on the cake; they make people feel proud to be part of your company, drive better customer experiences, and make employees want to go above and beyond for your organization.

5. Celebrate Achieving The Goal

You would be surprised how many companies never celebrate the completion of their goals. Be sure to take a moment to recognize everyone’s hard work and let them take pride in their achievement before you start thinking about what comes next.

Of course, you won’t delay building the 2020 goals because you first have to celebrate the 2018 ones, but be certain that you do celebrate achievements in the timeframe in which they were targeted.

If you follow all of the above steps, you will be exponentially more successful at attaining goals. This approach should help improve the retention of employees and customers, ensure people are motivated toward the most important targets and exponentially increase your opportunity to hit your goal out of the ballpark.

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