How to Achieve Quarterly Goals

Commit to fewer goals and better execution

Deidre Paknad  ::  Strategy & Execution

'Deciding What Not To Do is as Important as Deciding What To Do' - Steve Jobs

It's goal setting time and many of us are also self-assessing accomplishments against last quarter's goals. There are two things that can make this difficult: 1) too many goals and objectives to come anywhere close to achievement and 2) too little attention to goals after they're set. A lot of readers have shared how hard it is to keep goals visible week over week and how seldom they review goals once set. After a few quarters, this cycle makes the goal-setting process seem fruitless and work less fulfilling. Achieve more next quarter with these 3 tactics:

1.  Set fewer goals
It's easy to add bullets to a PowerPoint with goals but incredibly hard for a team to achieve more than 2-3 truly material results in a quarter. This quarter, ruthlessly prioritize and hone in on the one thing that really must be achieved to make your year and your quarter. Add the second most valuable outcome, one stretch goal, and stop there. Resist the pressure to list anything that is immaterial, that you can't come close to achieving, or the team lacks the capacity (or discipline) to achieve.

2. Quantify results to set the bar for your time
Use revenue, customers, profit, market share or other clearly material metric to define goal achievement. How much does achievement of these particular goals matter? These metrics not only define goal achievement, they become the bar that all other activities must exceed to get your time and your team's. If other activities aren’t quantifiably more valuable, they don’t take time away from goal achievement. Check out this tool kit on defining and communicating goals and metrics; it can help prompt thinking through the goal setting process and provides a ready-made template for communicating to the team.

3. Go from “agreed to achieved” every week
Messages and distractions overwhelm even the best teams; without relentless focus it's easy to devolve into executing on our inbox instead of our goals and OKRs. To break this bad habit, schedule weekly meetings to reiterate goals, agree to truly important work that week, and report status at the end of each week… relentlessly. It’s much easier to hold each other accountable and share common intentions when everyone is clear on the goal and how their work ties to its achievement. Use status reports rather than staff meetings to communicate progress made; in weekly meetings, celebrate prior week achievement, adjust course and clarify the next tranche of work.

We're all measured by our progress against goal. But there's so much noise in email, chat, irrelevant alerts and personal social media, goals and objectives are harder than ever to see and achieve. In Q2, try committing to fewer goals but laser-focused execution — it may be a shift in habit and some may resist, but the rewards of achieving goals with a wholly engaged team will be gratifying for all. Here's to a great quarter!

— The Velocity Gurus @ WorkBoard

P.S.  WorkBoard can take the labor out of leadership by keeping goals visible, tracking the agreed-to-achieved items weekly and automating status reports against them.  Try the app to make the great leadership, execution and goals easier to achieve.

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