Transformation Advisors, Inc.
B.I.G. Strategies for Business Excellence

STRATEGY: SET SMARTER GOALS.
Happy New Year! Were already racing through January. Have you already blown off your New Years Resolutions? Or will you stay focused on achieving your goals for 2011 and not let the distractions of writing business and managing your business deter you from planned successes in this New Year?

Keys to achieving your goals
There are all kinds of things that can distract you from your goals. There is something you can do right now to ensure that 2011 is a year of achievement, not disappointment. Its all about making sure your goals meet a few critical criteria: Engagement, Accountability, Measurement, Review, and Continuous Improvement. Build these elements into your goals and get a fast start on achieving them.

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Pamela A. Millard, CPCU

Pamela A. Millard, CPCU 530.295.1083

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Engagement
Unless you are the only one on your team, you need help. So its important that you get your team engaged in the process as well as in the goals.

People do things for their own reasons. And your reasons are not necessarily their reasons. If you want your team actively and enthusiastically going after the goals you set, you need them engaged – in the goals and in the process.  Here are some ways to ensure that your team members get on board with you.

  • Provide context. People need to understand goals as part of something

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“Every day you spend drifting away from your goals is a waste not only of that day, but also of the additional day it takes to regain lost ground.”
           ~ Ralph Marston

bigger. And the further team members are from the customer, the more this is critical—and more difficult to accomplish. Your team needs to understand your vision—the vision for the company. Strategic intent is one way to get people engaged.

  • Get them involved. The more people are involved in the goal-setting process, the greater the likelihood of achieving the goals.  Your employees will tell you, “I am more interested in achieving
    MY goals than Your goals.” So, to the extent possible, make your goals their goals too.
  • Be clear. Goals and the actions to achieve them, need to be clearly understood.  People need to understand what you want them to do – in specific terms.  If they are in doubt about what the expectations are, they will not be working as a team to fulfill the goals.  They need to understand clearly what their individual role is in achieving the goal.  Why it’s important and – what’s in it for them.
  • Be realistic. Goals need to align with each team member’s sense of logic and their understanding of their world – really. Goals need to be achievable. People can't get behind goals that are impossible to achieve. But realistic goals also contemplate challenging. If the goals are no better that what you're doing now, then they're not goals. The status quo does not engage people.
  • Set priorities. Part of your reality check has to be an understanding of the priorities. If individuals or teams have too many priorities, then nothing is a priority. And beware of goals that seem to contract other goals. You don't want team members thinking, "If I do this, I can't also do that."

Getting your team engaged means getting them involved and encouraged and enthusiastic.  And they have to believe in the goals.

Accountability
Accountability is the missing ingredient in many plans. Goals do not achieve themselves. Who is going to do what by when, how, and how will you monitor progress and results. Building the tactical implementation right into your goals, helps ensure you can achieve them. Goals, and the objectives and action steps necessary to achievement them, need to be specific, time sensitive and measurable.

What are the consequences for meeting or failing to meet the goal? Stephen Covey is quoted as saying “Accountability breeds response-ability.” When you hold people, and yourself, accountable for outcomes and results, you are encouraging them to accept responsibility. Delegation without accountability is abdication.

Measurement
There is no accountability without measurement. What gets measured gets managed.  Or more aptly here, what gets measured gets done. Along with accountability, build the measurements right into your goals.

Include not just what you will measure but also how you will monitor progress. How, and how often? By when?  It’s important to establish the method for measuring results, or progress against goals.

And what will you measure?  We are very used to measuring results.  Our industry is all about the money, whether you’re taking it in or paying it out.  So we tend to think of results only in terms of Premiums, Revenues, Underwriting Profit, EBITDA, Expenses and Loss Ratios.  Relevant results are definitely part of the goal set.  But you may have goals beyond the dollars in and out.  Especially for teams or units that are not on the front lines, goals may be service oriented or delivery oriented.   They may be behavioral.  They may involve training and development. So when you think of measuring goals you want to think broadly about what you’re trying to achieve.

Review
Don’t overlook the importance of Follow-up. Build the review process right into the goal and then, follow up and follow through. This is how you demonstrate your commitment to the goals and ensure that everyone is working on the right priorities. This is where you hold yourself accountable.

Continuous improvement
Your business is not static and neither are your goals .A frequent complaint of planning and goal setting is the fact that it seems to be a waste of time when things change.  And often, when things do change and the goal becomes unattainable, or irrelevant, there is a tendency to just dump the whole plan.

Goals are not cast in stone. To ensure success, build your goals with the anticipation that there will be change – continuous improvement.

Think of continuous improvement as just part of the process. Measure progress and if you’re not getting just what you want – or what you expected, make adjustments – to the action plans or the priorities or, less commonly, the goals.  You measure again.  And if bigger changes are needed, you make them.  But usually, when goals are not being met, it isn’t the goal that needs to change, it is the actions taken to achieve it,

Take your goals to the next level.

  • Engage Your Team
    • Make sure they can see the bigger picture. 
    • Make sure they know what’s expected of them – and what’s in it for them
  • Build in Accountability
    • Make sure everyone knows – and is committed to  WHO is going to do WHAT by WHEN, HOW, and HOW WILL YOU MEASURE IT
  • Follow Up and Follow Through
    • Don’t wait until the end of the year to see how you’re doing
    • And don’t assume that things are being done according to plan.  Check on it!
  • Expect Change
    • And expect to make changes – perhaps to your goals – but certainly to the actions and the methods to achieve them.

Many plans fail because too many issues are addressed.
Concentrate your efforts on the most important issues, those items that are imperative to fulfilling the vision of your business. Identify which things must be done well, or those that set you apart from the competition, and start with them first.

Are your goals designed to be achieved? For a checklist you can use to test your goals, click here.

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