Five Ways to Fail at Setting Goals

by Saba Software | Posted | Performance Management

Five Ways to Fail at Setting Goals

It’s that time of year again: time to set out the strategies for 2015 for your department and your employees.

It’s a yearly task that’s similar to cleaning out the gutters on your roof: you can clearly see the benefits of doing it, but no one is excited about getting it done.

Instead of doing the same old thing, why not shake things up and take an entirely different approach to goal setting and performance management? Instead of planning for success, here are some surefire ways to fail.

1. Don’t align goals strategically

If everyone in your office is working towards the same goal, they all have a sense about how they contribute to the success of the organization. The whole team wins or loses.

That’s so 2014. Challenge your managers by creating multiple goals, and let them battle over conflicting priorities. One team will eventually come out on top, likely at the expense of another. Sit back and enjoy watching the chaos – that’s when employees’ personalities really shine.

2. Make goals generic vs. specific

If you know exactly what you’re aiming for and prepare for how you’ll get there, you’ll probably land pretty close to your goal. That kind of clear direction is boring. Throw out your yearly targets and just let people shoot into the dark. Don’t reveal what your expectations are on projects or what you need employees to deliver. You won’t know exactly what will happen, but as long as you’ve got the big picture in sight, the details don’t matter, right?

3. Make goals unrealistic

Are the goals you’re setting practical? Do they fit within your employee’s capabilities? If you’ve answered yes to either of those questions, you’ve just taken all of the challenge out of the equation. If you want to stretch your employee’s abilities, you’ve got to set goals well outside their reach, pile on an unrealistic workload, give due dates of “yesterday” and really make them sweat. Borrow from the ‘80s fitness mantra, “No pain, no gain.” Your employees will thank you for it.

4. Make your goals difficult to measure

No one likes a braggart. People start achieving their goals and all of a sudden that’s all they can talk about. Then they’re focused on earning results and fall into the trap of job engagement. Nip this in the bud by telling managers not to measure their department’s performance, whether by quantity, quality or cost. That way there will be no winners or losers at your workplace. Apathy on the job is a lot quieter than employees who are celebrating their successes. Peace at last.

5. Don’t bother tracking progress

Why break down a project into monthly or quarterly goals when you can just rush towards the finish line? Tracking progress might call attention to problems with your workflow. That means you may have to find efficiencies or refine processes to make everything run smoothly and keep your employees happy. Don’t let this happen to you. Sweep the problem under the rug by eliminating employee reviews and throwing out project deadlines. No one liked them anyway.

Of course, you may want to stick to tried-and-true strategies like streamlining strategic goals, making those goals specific and achievable, and setting up processes to measure and track your employees’ progress. Sure they work; that’s why the most successful companies use them. But why not re-invent the wheel? It hasn’t been updated for millennia and is probably overdue for a change.

Your Turn: We hope you like our tongue-in-cheek list of how to fail at goal-setting. What suggestions do you have to ensure goal-setting failure?

How to Excel at Goal Management

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How to Excel at Goal Management

Learn goal management best-practices every organization should follow


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