Goals and Unconventional thinking
Businesses as a general rule love goals, people do as well. One of the most stressful moments you’ll ever come across is someone who is behind on a goal, and one of the more euphoric is someone who exceeds their goals. How could anyone ever say anything against setting goals? To do so would be almost absurd, it would be….. well it would be….. the point of this next post.
So what are goals? Usually to be meaningful they’re a set expectation based upon careful planning and forecasting and are easily measurable.
So Why am I Off the Goals Bandwagon?
I’m the type of person, who obsesses over metrics, who analyzes them, can figure out the best possible way to achieve the result, or surpass it with the appropriate amount of effort. I’ve always exceeded goal and been able to exploit success to usually achieve the desired outcome both I and my employer were looking for.
This is why I’m kind of put off by goals. The mindset of the worker is focused in with needle sharp attention on the metrics. You ask a salesperson what their margin quota is and what percent to goal they are currently sitting at and odds are they can give you both numbers at any time of the day during said month. I don’t think this sort of stress is conducive to a worker being in the appropriate state of mind to make decisions, as it creates volatility and unpredictable behavior.
I’ve seen some interesting behaviors around goal maximization which detour directly from what’s best for the business. Some would argue this is just poor goal formulation, I would argue this will always be an inherent flaw in the system, as people will always find some loophole no matter how well designed.
Another issue that’s quite common is myopia; being so focused in on one thing the person being motivated loses out on many different opportunities. This to me is the most damning as its just human nature.
- Human psychology gets in the way where goals become a driver of emotion that can create chaos in the marketplace.
- Exploitation of goals for personal gain will occur no matter how well the system is defined.
- Putting on blinders, and focusing in on the goal will cause your business to miss terrific opportunities.
What’s the Solution?
It’s extremely easy to call out a problem; it’s exceptionally hard to define a real solution. Out of my own personal experience though I would say relying on a “vision and mission statement” that ties directly back to all work done, and not providing quantitative goals may work best. This does have its own problems however as employee morale could be adversely impacted, given that rewards would be a bit more subjective and tied back to who most closely matches the vision.
In the end though I would argue strongly for this system, as any model even the most regimented has a employee satisfaction issue. Letting your employee base know they are trusted, and are free to explore opportunities that don’t always align to the highest impact area brings in creativity to find new opportunities that would be overlooked otherwise.