Happy New Year!  Around the world, teams are finalizing plans and setting goals for the year.  Most are doomed to fail.  Here’s why.

1. Setting Too Many Goals

The experts at FranklinCovey tell use that the fewer goals you set, the more goals you actually attain. The facts about goal setting look like this:

# Goals Set

# Achieved

2-3

2-3

4-10

1-2

11+

0

 

How many goals does your team set? How many strategic initiatives are on your list for 2018?

Our human capacity to prioritize new goals while juggling all of our other responsibilities requires that we focus on a small number of things at any given time.

Does the above mean that we can only accomplish 2-3 things as a team during the year? Not necessarily, read on...

2. Not Allowing Time for Change

Almost every goal we set involves changing behavior. The second mistake we make when setting goals is to underestimate the time required to permanently change behavior. Most of us assume that "if you do something for 21 days, you have established a new habit."  But is this true?

Research from the European Journal of Social Psychology sheds some light on the 21 day myth. Some individuals can change in as little as 18 days, while others take as long as 270 days.  On average, it takes 66 days to permanently change behavior. Oftentimes organizational leaders are at the faster end of that scale – leading to a misalignment of expectations (and ineffective leadership).

Image result for tortoise hare

"Why won't our team use the new system?  All we're asking them to do is one new thing!" It's a compliant we've heard from leaders time-and-time again. But any new system brings with it new processes, new ways of doing multiple old processes - on top of a technology learning curve. 

Who are the different personas on your teams, and how fast can they absorb change in their habits, processes, or technology to support your goals?  How many of those changes are you really asking them to take on at once? Take a lesson from the Tortoise and the Hare and see if there is a way you can slow down the pace of change.

3. No Way to Measure

The Social Workplace reports that 84% of managers don’t know how to measure their team members.

"If you’re setting goals without a daily (or at least weekly) way to report results, then your team is flying blind."

Not only should you be measuring goals, you should be making it easy for your team to see the goals, and know exactly how to make progress against those goals. In the best case individual, team and organization-wide goals should all be reported in a single place.

Options such as Dynamics 365, SharePoint, Power BI and Salesforce make measuring and reporting goals easier than ever before.

 

So what about your team?  Have you set goals?  Have you kept it to a small number?  Have you built time for change into your plan?  Can your team track progress against goals at least weekly?