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Setting goals in your business is a must if you want to go anywhere. With clear objectives, people can align together and have a real direction for all of the tasks they’re doing. As you set goals in your business, you’ve got two perspectives to consider — the perspective of each department, and the perspective of the overall company. Those should support each other, rather than operate as built-in vacuums.
A goal is only “right” if it builds your business
When you set goals for the entire organization, the top priority is making sure that the goals actually make the company better. For example, let’s say your company offers a subscription for a service, and your overall goal is to increase your profit margins. To do that, you could try bumping up the cost of the subscription. But customers might see that price hike and jump ship. So while you might have more money than before, your company hasn’t really grown. A better overall goal that supports the business would be to increase the number of subscribers.
Departments are unique, but their goals always support the big picture
Within your business, every department takes care of a different aspect of what you’re trying to do. Your salespeople, for example, don’t crunch numbers or send invoices to your suppliers the way your accounting people do. So every department should have its own objectives. But every department objective should be a subgoal of your overall company goal. And you have to find a way to communicate the overall goal to each department in a way that resonates and motivates each team.
To illustrate this, let’s look at that subscriber example from before. The overall goal is to increase how many customers you’ve got. But if you’re on the sales team, then your goal might be to talk to more people each month or hit a new target audience. If you’re on the customer support team, then your goal might be to improve your customer satisfaction and retention, which builds loyalty and referrals. The objectives and activities across teams are different, but they both support the overall goal and have the same result of bringing more people to the business.
Each department should be aware of the goals other departments have so it’s easier to pull together and collaborate efficiently. Having each department see the big picture also fosters a sense of purpose that builds a more cohesive culture. Everyone on each team knows where they are adding value, and they don’t take anybody else in the company for granted because they understand the role each department has in the company’s progress. Talking about company workflows at all-hands meetings, celebrating achievements across departments or inviting employees to shadow each other from time to time are all great ways to help your people see the business in this broader way.
Technology can bring you information on just about anything. A big mistake many companies make when setting overall goals or department subgoals is getting distracted by the information available. You might have the ability to look at a specific metric, for instance, but if it doesn’t relate to the goals, then that data is not relevant and doesn’t have value. Companies can also end up focusing on the numbers so much that they behave less ethically. They do everything they can just to be sure they hit quotas and look good, when in reality they’re not meeting the real needs of the business at all.
As you set department and overall goals, close the loop. Put some guardrails in place to ensure that you’re selecting metrics that matter, and that people don’t get paranoid about quantifying what they do.
With overall and department goals linked, your company can truly grow
Setting goals is a simple way to unify your people and get better results. But you have to make sure you’re selecting goals that help the company. Every department should know where they fit and have subgoals that help the entire business move forward. The way you communicate about those goals and select your data can help create a positive environment for everyone. See how everything links, and always ask whether you’re going to be better for your effort.