I've found that setting goals with my team has been one of the most beneficial activities in my business. In fact, I've often said that if I were to only spend one week out of the year working on my business, I would spend it all on setting goals with my team.
But regardless of which goal-setting framework you use or how many goals you set, what's most important is honing in on the right goals for your business. When I consult with companies, I often find they're setting goals based on their gut instincts instead of looking critically at where they should put their efforts to push the business forward as quickly as possible.
I could write an entire book on this topic -- and I did write an entire chapter on it in my upcoming book, Come Up for Air -- but for now, here are some foolproof ways to choose the right goals for your business.
Address your weaknesses
I always start the goal-setting process by looking at my company's weaknesses. This is where we stand to gain the most, so it makes sense to set goals in these areas. In the words of Jay Abraham, I want to make sure we're getting everything we can out of all that we've got before setting goals around new projects or initiatives.
My process is simple. At the beginning and end of each quarter, I give each department a simple rating -- A through F -- based on their performance. This can be metric-based, but it's largely subjective. I take into account how well the team is working together, whether they're operating within their budget, how often deadlines are being missed, etc. It's a sort of gut check that I'll back up with numbers when I can.
At the beginning of each quarter, I'll look over the ratings for each department. This gives me a clear idea of where we need to focus our efforts and, with some digging, what type of goals we may want to set for the quarter ahead.
For example, if the marketing team is underperforming I'd look into why. If they're understaffed, we could set a goal to hire a new marketing team member. If they're being hindered by technical limitations, we could set a goal around finding a better tool and implementing it. If we need to produce more content, there could be a goal to open a new content stream or ramp up content production in one area.
This is a simple way for me to analyze where we're underperforming, then work with my team to come up with possible solutions. Those solutions then get solidified into clear goals for my team to work towards over the next quarter.
Find your strengths
With our weaknesses handled, I'll then look at what's going well. I like to incorporate some advice from Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach and an entrepreneurial legend.
He often tells entrepreneurs to double down on what they're doing best by asking a few simple questions, like:
- What are your best offers?
- What are your greatest strengths?
- How can you expand on them?
- What would be the very next action item to make that happen?
- And who should be responsible for it?
With this, I can look at the past quarter to see where our strengths lie and what's been going well. I can then double down on that by setting goals that will push our top performing departments even higher.
These goals might be around developing new products that would expand upon already successful products or continuing to improve an already successful sales process. I'll always jump on an opportunity to double down on what's working, rather than investing time and money into something that may or may not produce results.
Use the right framework
At Leverage, we implement our goals with a framework called OKRs, which has been famously used at companies like Google, Intel, and Uber. There are plenty of similar goal-setting frameworks, but one reason why I love OKRs is that they can turn even the most subjective goal into something that's clear and measurable.
It's an important factor to consider, as this means you can clarify more subjective goals like "improve the efficiency of our operations team" or "create a better version of our sales process." With OKRs, these types of goals are clarified by aligning as a team on metric-driven key results that, when achieved, will prove the team has achieved the larger goal.
Whether you use OKRs or not, the lesson is simple. At the beginning of each quarter, set aside time to address your weaknesses, double down on your strengths, and use a goal-setting system that will make it abundantly clear whether you and your team have achieved your goals or not.