Frame your quarterly goals in a way the whole team can understand

success strategy

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Command and control is a common framework for running classic businesses. As the pace of the market goes up, we need to rethink the main steering mechanisms. In fast paced markets we get dependent both on setting clear goals. We are also dependent on articulating the rationale for the goal in a way that can support each individual to execute well. The vital few goals are the foundation for executing in a lean and learning organizational structure.

Formulate the quarterly goals

Yearly goals will continue to exist but struggle to be crisp and relevant throughout a year. Quarterly goals represent an opportunity to be crisp and tangible.  It is easier to articulate an accurate quarterly priority than a yearly one. But the transition from vague yearly goals to crisp quarterly goals represents a big change for leaders as well as team members.

Focus on goals for the activities your team will work on.

The “nice to do goals” that represent what you think will be great to do. Such goals do not always represent the critical activities in the team. Focus on the essentials in a quarterly plan with a handful of goals. Your team members will pay more attention to the goals and fulfilling goals when goals represent the center of gravity.

Decide upon the quarterly goals just before each quarter starts. Your priorities will be up to date and reflect current business realities. When you have this model implemented your quarterly goals at the top sett directions all the way down to individual level. Aim for this in your organization too.

Provide Important Insights

In a steady business you set the goals, and the team can execute since they all have a clear idea of why the goal make sense. In fast moving businesses you need to spend more time articulating the insights that make the goal important. Leverage the insights from business leaders and though leaders to highlight what matters. The likelihood of success increases when you help the team to see the rationale behind goal. Do not expect all team members to see the full picture if it is not laid out and explained.

Articulate the expected outcome

Besides defining what the goal is, you need to define which outcome the goal will lead to. A team that understands both the goal and the expected outcomes will deliver better results. The expected outcomes are as important as the goal itself. A clear understanding of expected outcome can make the difference when picking the best option. Expect choices to be harder in complex and fast moving markets. Your team will make better choices when they see the full picture as far as possible.

Highlight Identified Obstacles

To secure a successful goal activation and strong buy-in from your team you need to be honest and open. Be clear on which obstacles the team needs to overcome to deliver. A key part of the operational model for a lean and learning sales organization is to set ambitious goals. Goals where overcoming the obstacles is an essential part of the journey. As a leader you need to help the team to see the fences you will have to jump over along the journey.

By stating the obstacles en route, you increase the level of buy-in from your team. Leaders setting goals and neglecting articulating obstacles fail on one of two fronts. Either the goal is set too low and is easy to reach if there are no real obstacles. The alternative is an ambitious goal where the obstacles are not identified nor planned.  Obstacles found later introduce large execution risks and unpredictable outcomes.

In quarterly plans you have little room for managing unexpected obstacles. Once identified and articulated your plans become more solid. It is important to describe the obstacles to allow your team to find ways above, around or under them. It is important the list of obstacles does not become a list of excuses for why not to deliver. It should rather be an articulation of a reality the team needs to deal with.

Good questions to ask

You can prepare one page for each important quarterly goal you would like to achieve. The following questions can support you in articulating the goals

  1. What are the teams you will be dependent on to deliver – join forces with them to set joint priorities if the sum of your efforts need to be bigger than two.
  2. Involve your team in articulating the goals – the best goals are the ones articulated to facilitate execution
  3. Who has the best insights defining the frame for the goal – aim to use meritocracy to articulate the insights as crisp as possible
  4. Define 2-4 expected outcomes you see expected form reaching the goal – when the team see a better world when the goal has been reached you have created more excitement to deliver.
  5. Who are the people that have the best view of the obstacles we need to overcome – start with a gross list and narrow it down to the most important ones, and the ones where a resolution seems feasible.

Additional reading

3 thoughts on “Frame your quarterly goals in a way the whole team can understand

  1. I think the discussion around the goals and metrics is more important than the metric itself. I have seen that many teams chase some metric and lose sight of the bigger picture.

  2. Pingback: How transform from yearly to quarterly execution goals in 5 quarters | Tweeter Linder

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