Long-term goals have become extremely fashionable these days, with most businesses (and even countries) punting some sort of vision for the coming years and even decades. Yet whilst the horizon is in sharp focus, many businesses struggle to manage their more immediate business objectives, which understandably pale in comparison to this bolder, bigger-picture thinking.
But are we failing to see the wood for the trees? After all, isn’t the achievement of a broader business strategy contingent on overcoming numerous, admittedly smaller obstacles? And are enormous and seemingly unachievable goals not the very enemy of progress, discouraging those who chase them over an ever-disappearing horizon? So before you set your sights on tomorrow, it’s important to take today into consideration.
Short-term goals are incredibly important for any business, as they help to keep your teams on track and point them in the right direction for success. This is especially vital given recent findings, which suggest that just 7% of employees actually understand their company’s strategy and the role they play in achieving it. This can leave many feeling lost and despondent – unsure of their purpose and unable to gauge their own performance levels.
Short-term goals make the goalposts a little more realistic and attainable, enabling employees to work towards an objective they feel able to achieve and understand. Not only that, but it enables more regular reflection, allowing teams to regularly revisit and adapt their goals based on performance and learnings.
Will this end up changing your long-term vision? In all likelihood, yes. But probably for the better. After all, each success and failure experienced en route to Vision 2025 or Strategy 2030 will make your teams stronger, more resolute and better able to face a world characterised by extreme uncertainty. Get the now right, and you’ll make the next chapter a far more prosperous one.
The trick with setting short-term goals is to break your broader vision down into smaller, more digestible chunks. Whether you separate goals by day, by week or by hour is up to you, but the more accessible you make success, the more likely you are to have an inspired, motivated team. By offering up regular benchmarks for success, you’ll not only facilitate a heightened sense of achievement, but you’ll also eliminate the anxiety created by a looming, incorrigible (and often incomprehensible) goal.
GRAB A CALENDAR
Whilst short-term planning is the nutritional equivalent of carbohydrates, offering up short, sharp bursts of energy, the long-term vision provides proverbial protein, and it’s important that the two are well-integrated. Essentially, you’ll want to keep topping up the team’s energy, but ensure they have sight of what each goal means in the broader scheme of things. The best way to offer your team a balanced work diet is to represent all goals visually, working off a large, visible calendar in which both short- and long-term objectives are clearly outlined.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
To encumber any member of your team with an overload of information is to compromise their output, so whilst it’s important to maintain sight of the ‘vision’, it’s equally important to set landmark goals for each team within this structure. So whilst the IT team is trying to achieve their short-term goals that ultimately aim to enable a total network restructure, the HR team might have a number of tasks set out with a view to overhauling all onboarding material. If you’re the custodian of the big picture, you’ll need to work with your managers to ensure they each have their own BIG goals to focus on. This way, they’ll understand the importance of what they’re doing, but only be required to focus on their areas of strength, thus enabling better, more streamlined performance across the board.