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Forging a Smoother Road Ahead

(January 2006) posted on Thu Jan 05, 2006

Plan for 2006 by reviewing 2005.


By Marty McGhie

Your smartest goals

Having addressed the past, it's now time to examine some
planning strategies for the upcoming year. I suggest you do
so using "SMART" goals"?goals that are specific, measurable,
attainable, relevant, and time-bound:

  • Specific: Your goals should be clearly spelled out so there
    is no doubt as to what you expect. When goals are specific, they
    also become easier to track and measure in terms of progress.

  • Measurable: If you want to know whether or not you are
    accomplishing your goals, they must be able to be measured.
    Without the ability to quantify progress in real terms, you and
    your staff can become discouraged and disinterested.

  • Attainable: Don't set goals that are unattainable. This can be
    tricky because if the goal is too easily achieved, no real growth or
    success will occur. On the other hand, if the goal is too difficult to
    reach, no real effort will be spent in trying and you will fail. The
    best goals are those that require you to stretch to achieve. At
    my company, "stretch goals" is a key phrase we use often in our
    planning"?whether it be monthly, quarterly, or annually.

  • Relevant: Make sure you set goals that, when achieved, will
    mean something. If you want your employees to work toward
    accomplishing something, they must feel that it's an achievement
    that will be relevant to your company's success"?and
    ultimately to their own success, too.

  • Time-bound: Your goals need to have a beginning point and
    an ending point. If the time frame of the goal is structured in an
    open-ended manner, then that goal will likely take a back seat
    to the daily tasks that will then seem much more imminent and
    time critical. The goal will eventually die on the back burner.

The calendar is not the boss

Two final points to keep in mind when it comes to setting company
goals for 2006 have to do with the calendar and the number
of goals you set.

Sometimes, to our detriment, we allow the calendar to
define our successes and failures"?slotting our goals into specific
time periods, and then allowing the schedule to become the
objective rather than the task you're actually trying to achieve.
But meeting a specific goal may indeed take 14 or 15 months
to complete rather than the 12 months you originally thought.
That's okay"?if the goal is a critical one, what's important is that
you meet that goal and do it well, not necessarily that you hit a
certain internally set date.

Another trap many companies fall into is setting too many
goals. If your goals are too overwhelming in quantity, you'll
likely lose focus and energy in trying to achieve them all. In
fact, you'll end up accomplishing very little. Setting a realistic
number of goals is the best way to ensure a successful 2006.

Marty McGhie (marty@ferraricolor.com) is VP finance/
operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with
Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations.


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