The Disadvantages of Goals
Anybody involved in running a business hears a lot about goals. For the most part, goals are vital to the success of any project in and outside of the business arena. However, goals come with their own set of risks and disadvantages. The trick is to overcome the downside while keeping the organizational benefits of setting good goals.
Accomplishing goals gives you a sense of accomplishment and strong confidence that you will succeed with the next goal you set. By contrast, failing to meet a goal feels awful. Fail to meet enough goals, and you or your team can spiral into a sense of defeat and helplessness fatal to your business. To avoid this, keep all your goals reasonable. You can always set more aggressive goals after a few early victories give your team the confidence it needs.
A well-set and clearly explained goal puts everybody on the same page and can lead to great success. A goal without a clear explanation sends team members off in different directions. Some might not be sure how to begin, while others will move confidently toward different interpretations of the goal. Goals that are clearly linked to specific metrics and time limits are the best way to prevent this disadvantage.
Goals focus your attention and effort on a single task. For purposes of that task, they're great, but that same focus means not giving attention and effort to other things. This can result in missed opportunities or flagging performance on tasks unrelated to the goal. The solution for this is to designate a member of your team to keep an eye out for new opportunities.
More than one executive has spent so much time defining, redefining and narrowing focus on his goals that he ran out of time to actually work on them. Spending a lot of time on planning can be a sign that you don't feel confident about your ability to actually reach your goals. If this seems to be the case with you or your team, it's a good idea to re-examine the goal itself. It might be unrealistic, unclear or otherwise flawed in a way that's daunting to the people responsible for accomplishing it.
The benefit of a goal is that it makes people accountable for delivering a specific accomplishment by a specific date. Though many people thrive under such conditions, others find the stress of a goal actually interferes with their ability to perform. Though it's tempting to dismiss such people as poorly suited for a business environment, it's better to work with them to find a way to set goals that don't intimidate or stress them.