Setting goals that actually are achieved

An important part of being effective in improvement is setting goals. Not setting goals leads to stagnation and regression. The competition will also be one step ahead of you every time.

To actually achieve goals, two components are important: commitment and measurability. In many organisations, goals are set for others, for example by the board or management teams. They, in turn, communicate these goals within their organisation or department: one-way traffic about the goals to be achieved, the road towards them and what they should deliver.

By the end of the year, all organisations set up like this get frustrated because goals are set again but not achieved (again), so ‘what’s the point of coming up with new goals again? This frustration arises when the employees who have to do the work to achieve the goals do not feel involved. They are not made owners and feel distanced from what someone else has made up. This puts the organisation in a reactive mode.

What is more effective is a management that outlines frameworks. Outline goals that the organisation wants to achieve, but each department or team can fill in how they want to contribute to this. This creates involvement and real ownership. The communication is not one-way but participatory, where you arrive at a good plan together.

The second element is that goals must be measurable. Formulating goals in SMART terms is essential to achieving them. Knowing exactly who, what, when and how must be done helps enormously in making the necessary actions and resources concrete. A very important addition: make sure there is enough room for interim evaluation moments and see if adjustments are necessary.