Goals Series Part 3: Why Goals Fail

February 9, 2016

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Welcome back to the ClearCompany Goals series! This month we’re talking all about goals and how to use them to drive your company and your employees to engaged and productive success. At ClearCompany, we believe that identifying goals, aligning goals and creating employee performance goal (link to previous goals article) (linked to business outcomes) is a core focus of Talent Management and HR.

 In the last two articles, we discussed how to align and communicate goals with employees and how to identify a BHAG for your organization and break it down so you and your employees could work together toward success. Today, we focus on: 

Why Goals Fail

When an employee, team or department fails to meet a goal, it’s disappointing to say the least. In our last article, we discussed setting reasonable goals based on past performance and research-based projections. This is important to avoid setting your company and the individuals who make it up, up to fail. Goals should be audacious, yes, but not unattainable! If you broke down the goal as described here (via timeline, resources and department) and didn’t hit any snags as it “trickled” down through the organization, it’s a good bet that your goals are reasonable. 

 

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.pngHow to tell if you're setting unattainable goals for your team:

 

One extra step to ensure your teams and departments have full accountability and buy-in, is to incorporate feedback into the goals process. As each director, manager and team leader sees the new goals; encourage them to give feedback on whether or not these are obtainable with current resources, staff levels and workload. If not, ask them to show performance reports and productivity levels to backup their assessment. If you’re already using goal tracking software in your organization, this will be a simple report for you or the team lead/manager/director to pull.

Goals can also fail because they aren’t stacked properly.

When building out goals for your organization, it’s a great idea to bring in people who are skilled at efficiency and project management. These people can put members of the team to work contributing to alternate projects or other pieces of the goal if their piece isn’t ready to be completed. Goal tracking software with a transparent dashboard or Gantt chart will also assist in ensuring that goals are stacked properly and resources are not wasted on working toward a goal if the piece before that is not yet completed. 

 

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.pngPersonality types you should trust managing goals in your organization: 

 

Going back to the BHAG example from our earlier article, examples of a poorly stacked goal can be staffing a shipping and service department before the product has gone through QA testing. Clearly, the shipping and service station will not hit any goals set if the product isn’t ready to move to clients yet. But in a poorly stacked goal scenario (especially in large companies) the shipping and service division or department would look as though they were achieving 0% of their goals, which is an unfair measurement and could detract from performance reports and reviews. It seems obvious when written out here, but many companies attempting to achieve goals over an extended period of time with a large amount of employees face poorly stacked goals every day.

Goals can fail due to accountability mismanagement.

One of the reasons we suggest trickling goals down to the individual level is for this very reason. When you stop at “team” and don’t ensure that the team divides the goal chunk tactically between his or her team members, you may find yourself with a mismanaged goal. It’s pretty simple to blame the team lead (and you should discuss this with them), but it’s possible that without a task being allocated specifically to one team member, no one knew he or she was supposed to complete it. 

It’s also possible that you have a slacker on the team, who is more than content to allow his or her team members to cover their work. Implementing an employee goal dashboard where everyone is responsible for specific deliverables, tasks and deadlines, forces all of these issues to the surface. Team leads and managers MUST input which task belongs to which member of their team and employees know which tasks they are accountable to the rest of the company for. When you select a system that allows multiple roles to view the tasks and deliverables of his or her coworkers (enter transparency) you reduce the ability of “credit hogs” to hide behind the accomplishments of colleagues.

 

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.pngHow to reduce "credit hogs" hiding behind everyone else's accomplishments:

 

And finally, we come to the final reason goals fail. Because you have a poor performer. Sometimes, it will be one person who consistently cannot meet the goals required of them. Whether it’s mismanagement of their own time, a lack of consequences for former poor performance, or simply a bad fit within the team, sometimes employees just don’t meet their goals. In our next article, we’ll talk about how to handle poor performance as it relates to goals.

Next in our series, we’ll discuss how to use the goal you have aligned and identified to measure performance in your organization and turn all your employees into A-players who achieve goals quickly and easily.

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Related Posts: 

Goal Alignment, Setting Goals, Goals Series

Laura Baker
Laura Baker
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As ClearCompany's HR Business Partner, Laura focuses on all things HR including managing employee benefits, onboarding and engagement initiatives. With a keen focus on best-practices, she serves as a strategic partner to the leadership team by acting as a trusted resource on a wide variety of human resources topics including policy interpretation, creating and recommending enhancements to the HR process, and career development.

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