Up the Odds You’ll Actually Hit Those 2014 Goals

MedalYou and your team have just set new, challenging targets for 2014. 

How confident are you that your team will exceed last year’s performance?  By employing the techniques in this article, you will have a 33% higher chance of hitting your goals.

Before we open the best-practice treasure chest, let’s take a second to reflect on your 2013 goals.  As you closed out the year, how was your team’s performance?

Did you hit your goals?  We did, and we hope you did too.  (We also celebrated with a delicious lunch, and we hope your team found a way to celebrate too!)

If you didn’t hit your goals, how did the end of the year team discussion go?  Often, we are asked by clients to help their team after a year or more of disappointing results.

Their team discussions often include sound bites such as:

“What were our goals?  Whatever happened to that e-mail we were going to send out that listed them?”

“Realistically, those goals were great, but we needed to deal with our day to day client issues.  We can’t expect our managers to put in a 10-hour day then spend extra hours drumming up more business.”

“We would have hit our targets if Bob (or Suzy, or Luis…) hadn’t gone out on disability leave (or maternity leave, or vacation, or to a competitor…).”

“We haven’t talked about those goals since March.”

Do any of these (or all of them) sound familiar?  Goals can quickly go by the wayside in the face of unsatisfied clients, a huge project opportunity or absent talent.  The problem is, when these external forces determine the performance of your team, you have essentially abdicated control.  You are now at the mercy of these outside forces to allow you to hit your goals.  This is a very dangerous position to be in as these outside forces definitely have different core interests than your team’s goals.

To reach targets consistently, you need a level of accountability that puts the control back in the hands of your team.  We can’t change the pressure from clients, competition or talent, but we have the ability to make goals a priority and increase the likelihood of achieving them.  After all, if you aren’t growing or evolving, you are standing still.  And in today’s economy, standing still is slowly failing.

Take control and ensure your team hits their goals this year.


1. Get an emotional connection for the greatest commitment:

An individual is much more likely to put in discretionary effort towards goals they had a hand in defining.  As a leader, it’s a great idea to create goal categories, or even specific goal suggestions, but you will create a strong emotional tie to the goals if the team has the opportunity to discuss and customize them.

2. Define the individual commitments and behaviors that will lead to goal success:

“We had no idea what each team member needed to accomplish, but we hit our goals anyway!” – said no winning team ever.

Our clients hear us talk a lot about Line of Sight.  Line of Sight is defined as employees knowing exactly how their objectives and actions support the overall team goals.  They can clearly see how their effort pays off for the overall team.

This increases motivation and clarifies exactly what needs to happen for the team to reach success.  In fact, research has shown that the highest performing employees can explain exactly how their objectives and actions support team success, while their lowest performing counterparts can’t explain either.

If your team or company has a set of overall goals, make sure that every individual has a set of specific commitments that support the greater goals as well as a set of behaviors that will help them achieve their objectives.

Think of it this way:  if you are looking to increase profitability on projects, but you aren’t talking about how project execution will look different in order to reach higher profitability, you are setting the team up for failure.  Any new level of achievement requires a new level of skill.  Make sure your employees understand the behaviors expected of them and have the skills to execute accordingly.

3. Write ‘em down, check up weekly:

Here you go, your 33% advantage.  Dominican University Psychology Professor Dr. Gail Matthews decided to research once and for all what strategies actually increase one’s ability to reach their goals.  Professor Matthews was able to take those goal-setting best practices you learned from your high school coach and back them up with research.

Professor Matthews’ research showed a 33% increase in goal achievement for those who:
        1. Wrote down their goals,
        2. Shared them with a colleague and,
        3. Checked in on the goal progress with the colleague

Apply this research to your team by making sure your goals are written boldly in an oft-seen place, ensure every team member is aware of them and check in on goal progress at regular intervals.

While we have known some teams to find monthly meetings are enough, the teams that really see the greatest improvement are those who do meet and check-in with successes and obstacles weekly.

My study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools:  accountability, commitment and writing down one’s goals,” Matthews noted in an article for Dominican University.

The right metrics will not only help you measure success, but will drive 2014 performance.  Marble Arch specializes in helping teams and organizations define the right metrics and objectives for their long-term success.  Contact us today for a complimentary conversation about the right metrics for your team.


Also, don’t forget that Jessica Weatherford, Founder of Marble Arch will be teaching Performance Metrics for Results at the UC Berkeley Extension in San Francisco starting March 27th.  Register now and learn how to define the right metrics for success and create a transformative culture around them.


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