Once you and your team identify your goals for the new year, it’s essential that you set your targets so that everyone knows exactly what they need to do to achieve business success in 2016.  You also need to regularly review performance against the targets so you can take action should the need arise.

Having clear and robust performance targets for your team ensures that everyone knows what they are responsible for; it will also give you a better chance at achieving business success in 2016.  This will drive employees to achieve results in critical areas, therefore it’s important to ensure that the targets are set correctly and are in line with your desired results.

Before introducing a new target, take the time to review it in terms of the seven questions outlined below to ensure the target will drive your business forward.

Is it specific?

A target is no good if it cannot be clearly understood.  The parameters for success must be expressed in clear terms, with no room for doubt.  If a target is left open to interpretation, it will quickly become unmanageable.  It will also lead to frustration and confusion in the work place and this will hinder your chances of business success in 2016.

Can it be measured accurately?

The target must be based on something that can be measured.  For example, if there is no data available from which to derive reports, how will managers or employees know if targets are being met?  Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that robust systems are in place to measure performance before any target is launched.

Is it fair?

To ensure engagement by employees, it’s critical that all targets set have the same chance of being achieved by everyone.  If not, you may be discriminating against a particular type of employee, so always consider the impact of a target on different groups before rolling it out.

Also consider whether the employee has the ability to have a positive impact on the results.  If they feel that they can’t make something happen, they will give up and become demotivated which will almost definitely hinder business success in 2016.

This may mean empowering your staff to achieve good results.

Is it meaningful?

It’s important that a target aligns with the core aims of the business and the individual objectives set for employees.  If not, you should question its relevance because your employees certainly will.

Is it achievable?

A target must be achievable or it will negatively affect performance reports and therefore business success in 2016.  It will also be demoralising for employees, particularly if a bonus or other incentive is linked to achievement of the target.  Equally, the target should not be too easy to achieve or it will be useless as a measure of performance.

You may want to consider a staggered reward system for employees.  Basic achievement of their targets is expected, so anything over and above that will be duly rewarded.

Can it be exceeded?

It’s important to include a “stretch” factor in a target so that there is a way to exceed its expected outcome.  Without this, you have no way of differentiating between employees who are just doing the bare minimum to hit the target and those that are going the extra distance.  The only exception to this is a target with no varying degrees of achievement.

Does it drive desirable behaviours?

Consider what effect a target will have on an individual’s behaviour and whether that is desirable or not.  A target that introduces some healthy competition is good, but not if it comes at the expense of employee relations.  For example, it wouldn’t be advisable to introduce a target that has a detrimental effect on customer service, nor one that has a negative environmental impact.

Considering these questions when designing a performance target will guarantee you don’t create a monster.  The target will be challenging but achievable, aligned with individual and business objectives, and clear to understand and measure.  The result will be employees who feel inspired and empowered to achieve success.

If you would like help to establish goals and targets to achieve business success in 2016, talk to the team at BSN & Co.  We can help you review your business, where you are now, where you want to be and how you can get there.