Setting goals that drive prosperity
For most Richardson Chamber members, and for the Chamber itself, ‘tis the season for setting next year’s goals. We are all making the decisions, fine-tuning strategies and committing to the goals that will drive our growth and success in 2018. The expectations for a non-profit to deliver on goals continues to rise when resources are in high demand. I’m continually aware that my bosses are comprised of an involved and intelligent constituency who rightly demand that we make a difference in their community.
Our processes are similar to those of our member businesses. Our focus is making decisions that best engage and benefit our members. Over the years we’ve developed and refined the following best practices to drive business success for our members:
Preparation –where are we?
Commit considerable time working through a full assessment of the current state of the organization.
- Are current goals being met?
- What is the current competitive environment?
- Is the market coming toward us or moving away from us?
- Are clients – in our case, members – doing better than they were last year?
It’s critical to set goals across multiple business units while creating alignment at the big-picture level. Adherence to the same mission, vision and long-term priorities are essential. Do these need to be updated before we plan for another year? For the next five years?
Like many organizations, the Chamber faces the challenges and benefits of setting goals that align with those of other business units. In our case, these include Tech Titans, the largest technology trade association in Texas and the Richardson Economic Development Council (REDC). Each organization has its own stakeholders, goals and budget.
Stakeholder involvement and engagement
Stakeholder buy-in on the front end of goal setting is critical to performance on the back-end. When all participants feel heard and included in the decision-making process, there’s a strong commitment to the resulting plan.
During the annual Richardson Chamber retreat, elected and advisory board members and other key stakeholders meet to set our long-term priorities – increasing membership engagement, for example – and develop plans to achieve them. They put their collective brainpower and business experience together to focus on a few high-level issues facing the community as a whole and specifically our organization. For example, how can we attract more millennial business owners and leaders? Some are aspirational (a BHAG—big, hairy audacious goal), but not impossible or outside of our control.
Setting goals that deliver on plan
Goals for the three organizations (the Chamber, Tech Titans and the REDP) must align at the staff level. It’s critical to trust employees to set the tactics for goal achievement. Staff expectations and compensation also must align with goals.
Each staff member develops five top goals aligned with their responsibilities. All goals must be measurable and specific. Sales goals are tied closely to the number of presentations and visits that are scheduled and held. These metrics, tied to sales goals, are controllable by the sales department and its team members.
We set both short and long-term goals. We tie short-term goals to the farther-reaching long-term goals, where staff feels like they’re making a difference in the long-run. We’re an accredited five-star chamber, putting us in the top one percent of U.S. chambers for quality, expertise and strong leadership. Our annual goals are part of our five-year plan, a requirement for accreditation.
We also have the benefit of a smaller staff. During our yearly retreat, each staff member presents their goals for the year to the rest of the staff. We want our employees to be collaborative and to help each other reach their goals.
Finally, I’m a big believer in training goals. I ask each staff member to identify a training goal tied to their performance goals. Training empowers employees with the tools and knowledge they need to achieve their goals.
Goal awareness and communication
We all know how easy it is for the excitement and visibility of new plans and goals to fade over time if they aren’t kept front and center of ongoing operations. Regular communication of those goals to our board and to our staff is essential: a reminder of the plan and goals we agreed upon.
Regular communication to stakeholders encourages investment in our shared goals and measures our progress in real time. We use a variety of channels to distribute these updates, including email newsletters, social media, in-person briefings and a print annual report. The tactics vary upon your audience, but access and transparency are essential, more so with an incoming millennial audience.
During the year I conduct periodic progress reviews with the board and staff for accountability. As new circumstances and opportunities arise, we make adjustments to accommodate changes to the plan. To keep everyone on track, it’s critical to maintain a constant awareness of the organization’s goals, leadership goals and staff goals.
We’ve built a strong foundation of planning and goal-setting that delivers results for our members. What have you found to be effective in your own goal-planning initiatives?
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