It’s that time of year, time for your 2021 goal setting session.
As the saying goes: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” You have to plan actionable goals for your business.
But there are numerous methods for goal setting. How do you choose the one that is best for your company?
You start by looking at all of the options and picking one that sounds similar to your culture and approach to getting things done.
In this post, we share goal-setting processes that are used by top companies to drive success. And, later in the post, we’ll share some of the awesome tips we’ve found to help you make the most of your goal planning. Let’s dig in.
**Actionable Tip** – Take notes as you read this as there will be several recommendations you’ll want to implement as part of your goal planning system. Many systems are similar, but always have room for improvement, so keep an eye open for new possibilities.
Before You Start Goal Setting for 2021
Prior to jumping into your goals for next year, there are a few steps you should take, as suggested by Australia’s Business.Gov
SWOT Analysis – Identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Consider how each of these will impact your goals, objectives, and strategies. This is particularly useful if you’ve added new team members or have grown significantly in the previous year.
Benchmarking – Research similar businesses in your industry or location and compare industry averages on income, and expenses. This can help you assess how your business is performing and give you some insight into setting realistic goals.
Evaluate Last Year’s Goals – If you previously set goals, take the time to identify where you were successful, why you were successful, and how you can replicate that. Pay attention to missed goals, and the obstacles that prevented them from being achieved so you can plan more accurately for the upcoming year.
11 Goal Setting Methods, Frameworks & Systems
The following summaries offer a glimpse into the how each process is used. The links in each section give more information. We’ll cover these goal planning methods:
- SMART goals
- Backward Goals
- One Word Goal Setting
- Locke and Latham’s 5 principles
- Tiered Goals Framework
- Golden Circle
- Goal Pyramid
Summary: Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely. This approach is used by HubSpot and forces you to focus on choosing goals that are possible for producing business results. More information
OKRs – Objectives & Key Results
Summary: Goals are based on objectives you want to accomplish and the key results/metrics that must be achieved to reach the objective. Objectives are the things you want to achieve, and Key Results are the numbers you must hit to achieve the Objectives. The OKRs are written for quarterly goals and this approach is used at major companies IBM, Google, and Jell (us). More information
B.H.A.G. – Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
Summary: Massive goals that take the all-in approach such as the Boeing 747 or Sony trying to change the perception of Japanese technology. These goals involve an emotional component and drive a purpose for the company while achieving something major. More information
Summary: To quickly find your goal, begin by choosing the overall success you would like to have. Then work backwards to identify what small goals, targets, and tasks need to be achieved to make that top goal happen. This is a backward goal with a realistic view of what it takes to be successful. More Information
One-Word Goal Setting
Summary: Choose one word and focus on it to achieve a roundabout goal. This has grown in popularity due to the simplicity of setting the goal, eliminating processes, organization, and discussion to figure out what should be your most important focus. This is based on the book One Word 365 and is used for personal goal setting as well as business goals. More Information
Locke and Latham’s 5 principles
Summary: There are 5 principles in this goal setting approach that increase the odds of succeeding: Clarity, Challenge, Commitment, Feedback, and Task complexity. Goals must be clear, challenging but not overwhelming, there must be team commitment, the team should be open to feedback, and the complexity of tasks should be considered in choosing goals. More information
Tiered Goals Framework
Summary: Goals are written based on the timeframe they can be achieved, for instance Annual goals, Quarterly goals, then Monthly goals where the items begin to look more like a to-do list. This is followed up by an evaluation period where you Recommit, Reset, and Remove goals, as needed. More information
Summary: Draw a target circle with three layers, at the center give your reason for Why you have goals, in the next layer describe How you can achieve them, and in the last layer describe What you have to do to achieve them. More information
BSQ – Think Big, Act Small and Move Quickly.
Summary: Goals are planned based on big targets, actions are planned by naming out the small things you can do to reach the target, and as you work through the plan you move quickly to get things done.
OGSM – Objectives, Goals, Strategies & Measures
Summary: If you need a more visual approach to setting goals, OGSM is a great framework for choosing your objectives, goals, and strategies. Everything fits on one page, you can print off the page and hang it in your office or above your desk. More information
Summary: Possibly similar to other ways of looking at goals, the goal pyramid puts your most important, and largest goal at the top of a pyramid, followed by large milestones, medium milestones, and small milestones. More information
Tips for Goal Planning in 2021
Once you’ve chosen a framework or method above, there are several additional tips that can help you be even more successful in reaching your goals.
For starters, if you are going to use OKRs the following tips will help you skip the mistakes often made when approaching a new system:
Simplify OKRs– Often times people have a hard time understanding what an Objective or Key Result is. To help use Doerr’s Goal Formula. John Doerr helped Google implement OKRs and boiled it down to one sentence that explains how they work:
I will ___(objective)___ as measured by __(these key results)___.
In The Basics of OKR by Henrik-Jan van der Pol, he offers 4 rules as guidelines to being successful:
- Key Results should almost always have a number.
- Set 5 or less objectives with up to 4 key results per quarter, anything else isn’t focused enough and causes people to be overwhelmed and distracted.
- Expect people to meet 70-80% of their OKRs.
- Set them both annually and quarterly.
Follow Specific Guidelines for Setting Objectives & Key Results:
Eisenhower, a task planning app, suggests their own approach to writing OKRs. They use the Eisenhower IDEA criteria to set goals with standards:
- Inspiring — only visionary, bold and eloquent objectives move people and your organization forward.
- Difficult — aim high with stretch goals far from the status quo, even go up to the point where one might feel slightly uncomfortable.
- Explicit — make your objective clear, concise and easy to understand from a first and brief glance, even for an outsider.
- Achievable — only commit on goals that can be nearly or completely accomplished in the underlying goal period by the assigned team or individual.
Score Success of Achieving OKRs – Use a realistic, yet optimistic approach to writing goals. You want to shoot for high growth, but realistically you only have a finite amount of resources available. At the end of each quarter revisit your OKRs and aim for achieving 70-80% of them.
Get Granular with Planning – For some people using OKRs, it makes sense to plan goals even more granularly, getting specific about monthly goals and tasks, and weekly goals and tasks. This helps them stay on target to reach their goals with a step-by-step approach that leads to success.
Examples of OKRs – For those just starting to plan with OKRs, here are several examples of what they look like and how your company can write their own: OKR templates
See How Others Make OKRs Work– In this post by FirstRound, Angus Davis of Swipely shares how he used OKRs when their team grew from 30 to 80 people. He specifically talks about how important it is to have stretch goals.
Tips for Goal Planning with SMART Goals
Since many companies use the SMART goals framework, here are some suggestions for using it and improving it for your team.
One such improvement is suggested by Ariane Benefit who writes about agilizing goals to make them more effective. She says “The Agile Approach to S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting is an updated way of setting goals that are designed to magnetize you into action.” And that SMART goals don’t have “all the tools needed to master the art of using goals to change habits and enhance performance.”
She recommends a slightly different approach to SMART, as follows:
- Small, Simple, Specific, Sustainable Actions
- Meaningful, Memorable Outcomes
- Aim for AGILE Zone of Expectations, Standards
- Relevant to Multiple Needs and Outcomes
- Tweakable Targets, Time-boxed Check-ins
Make SMART-ER Goals
Another adjustment to SMART goals comes from Wanderlust Worker who suggests adding two letters to the acronym making it SMARTER goals.
Evaluate and Readjust
A lot of time is invested in planning goals, but then what? What happens when you’ve hit or missed them? Wanderlust Worker suggests you evaluate and readjust them based on your successes or misses for moving forward.
These are important steps in moving forward to new goals. For many, these two steps might seem obvious, but by adding them officially to SMART goals we keep them in mind and remember that not all goals are perfect or achieved, and sometimes they just need a little adjustment.
More 2021 Goal Setting Tips
“Ultimately, logic and clear thinking are probably the best tools for setting goals, and motivating an organization properly.” – Tomas Tunguz
Every company is different and needs to choose a goal planning process that works best for them. In fact, most companies who adopt a popular process change it over time to meet their own needs. That’s where all of these ideas come from, companies who have found something that works and want to share it to help others.
Here are some of the most helpful adaptations to 2021 goal setting we’ve found:
Make your Goals Public – When you make your goals public, you become accountable to everyone who sees them. For instance, here at Jell our product allows us to set OKRs for our teams and organization. Anyone in the organization can see the rest of the team’s OKRs in an effort to be transparent.
Reward Yourself – When we set and achieve goals in our personal lives we often reward ourselves for it. It’s also motivating to do this professionally, says Notre Dame Online, and it doesn’t have to be about money. Organizations can reward individuals with praise, promotional items or equipment, or recognition. People can reward themselves by taking a vacation day, buying themselves a small gift, or grabbing a snack.
Create Systems to Support Your Goals – Systems and habits help us build routines that support us in achieving goals, so it makes sense that this article in Forbes suggests ways to approach goal setting that include using habits.
Here are a couple that might work for you:
- When you want to promote a happy workplace where employees thrive, you can schedule bi-weekly one on one meetings with them automatically through Google Calendar, instead of manually having to reschedule one each time something comes up. This way you’ll get more calls in, and have the opportunities to build relationships and a workplace your employees enjoy.
- When you want to get to work on time everyday but you aren’t motivated in the morning, set your clothes out, with shoes, and get everything ready to go before bed. That way, in the morning, you grab what you need, get dressed and spend less time running around.
Create Strong-Enough Reasons For Your Goals – Wanderlust Worker has had years of experience building goal systems, making them work, and adapting to new frameworks. One of his 10 tips on achieving career goals is to create reasons you base your goals on.
For instance, you don’t just want to sell 1000 pairs of socks a month, you want to donate 1000 pairs to homeless shelters and you do that by selling 1000 pairs.
Consider The Obstacles – While brainstorming for your goals, take the time to consider what obstacles you’ll encounter. We tend to overshoot what we are capable of and are also very optimistic about what we can achieve. Assume things will come along that will prevent you from meeting your goals, and plan how you’ll deal with those challenges so you can stay a step ahead.
Track Your Goal with an App – Use an app to help you track your progress. For example, in Jell, you can check of your daily tasks, monitor your goals, and align your OKRs.
Summary for 2021 Goal Planning
Make 2021 the best by implementing a goal system that best reflects how your team works. Keep the team on track and upbeat while providing a challenging, yet achievable objective. As you can see here there are many ways to make goals work for your company, the important thing is to get started, keep moving, work together, and aim for success.