A company cannot succeed without having a clear and defined set of goals. While there are naturally going to be numerous steps required to achieve any major goal, each level of the company has its own set of goals related to the achievement of company-wide aims. This is why it is crucial that you consolidate your company goals as much as possible. While you can theoretically achieve numerous goals at one time, ultimately you will have far more success if you have a smaller number of goals that you and your employees can focus more of your energies toward achieving than if you have lots of goals and spread your energy far and wide in trying to reach them all. You can decide on which goals to keep based on determining which goals will be the most profitable or based on which ones best align with your organization's purpose.
One way to discover the goals of an organization is to consider the needs and requirements of stakeholders. Without having a reasonable number of clearly defined goals, the organization cannot satisfy its responsibilities to anyone.
An organization carries responsibilities for many people, and all of these people can be called stakeholders for their contribution toward and relationship to what the organization ends up producing. Some of these people include the investors who have bought shares in the organization, who need to know that the money they have invested is going to a productive use. Other people the organization is responsible for include the employees. Governments are stakeholders for private firms since they rely on private firms for tax revenues, and governments are stakeholders in subsidiary government organizations at a much deeper level. The government that commissions a government agency is a lot like the owners of a private business in that they provide funding and expect results. Finally, every organization carries a responsibility to provide what it promises to the people it serves, be they customers or some other type of constituency.
Some organizations set goals that are customer-focused. They center on the user or customer experience. Other organizations find their goals are dictated by owners or mandated by government sponsors. Goals can also be sourced from employees and customers based on their vision for the future.
Managers can also try to act as visionaries and develop their own goals. The process of creating a goal begins with visualizing the desired state of your organization in the future. From there, you need to form a clear statement that will tell your employees how to work toward that desired future state. Often these goals cannot be expressed simply because they require too many different inputs. If this is the case, these goals can be further broken down into any number of subgoals that are more individually manageable and more quickly achievable.
From Consolidated Goals to Actionable Goals
How do you know when your company-level goals have been broken down into small enough pieces? The following characteristics apply to all effectively stated goals:
The goal must be clear. When someone asks "What does your company do?" it should be easy to answer this question. If you can't, there is a problem with the definition of your goals. If an answer to what your company does requires more than two sentences, your goals can probably be further clarified. Naturally, within a clear goal there can be further specification of what a goal means. For the very top level of goals, they can be suitably vague such as the Constitution of the United States. However, as you define the goals that each section of your organization needs to meet in order to satisfy company-wide goals, there needs to be a greater degree of specificity at each level.
The organization may be complex and may mean the world to its founders, but it is probably a small part of its end users' lives. Make sure that your organization's goals reflect this. You aren't putting a man on the moon or saving the world from a zombie apocalypse. Try to keep things simple and accept that this is a business and not an epic struggle of good against evil. We may sound cheeky, but there is a lot of wisdom in this idea of simplicity.
Your goals are attainable. If you do not believe your goals are attainable, there can be negative reactions as you attempt to reach them. Either you and your employees will approach reaching your goals with half a heart or you will subconsciously sabotage your efforts and achieve far less than you are capable. Even if everyone gives it their best efforts, the cruelty of an unattainable goal dooms them to failure. Managers who set impossible goals often punish employees for not doing the impossible, which is terrible and pointless.
Once the goal has been clearly stated, the next important step in consolidating your goals is to decide who will bring them about. Everyone should know their role in bringing your goals to fruition. If a goal is clear and is known to be attainable, the only remaining step is to define who will do what to make this goal happen. If people know what they are supposed to do, they can get to work and will often surprise you with their resourcefulness and work ethic. However, if your organization's goal does not include some definition of what individuals must do to make it happen, actually reaching the goal will be difficult.
There are times when a company's prior goals become unattainable, and at these points it is necessary to change those goals. In many cases, this need for a change of goals derives from a significant change in the market the company serves. If the people want something new and different, a company that wants to survive and thrive is going to adapt to this desire. Because of the potential for a goal to become unreachable, it is important to always keep your finger on the pulse of what is coming down the line before your team finds itself staring at a brick wall. You need to monitor how your team is progressing, the marketplace in general, and the current state of technology to know whether your goals are attainable.