6 Mistakes leaders make when setting goals

Avoid these common pitfalls so as to make the process as efficient as possible. By Priya Prakasan

Goal setting is a complex responsibility leaders have to shoulder. For any team to function well, clear planning and vision are an absolute necessity. Though goal setting might seem like a simple task in theory, when it comes to practice, it can be quiet challenging. Leaders have to find the right balance between attainable yet challenging goals. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

1. Inappropriately assigning goals
Just like tasks, goals need to be assigned appropriately to those who have the resources, ability, and knowhow to achieve them. For example, a leader cannot assign an organisation-wide goal to someone who is in a mid-management position. Assigning projects/goals on aspects that are out of the employee’s control does not serve the purpose and is folly. For an organisation-wide goal, consider putting together a team with varied skills and seniority to ensure the objective is met.

2. Neglecting the big picture
Another mistake is focussing on immediate needs rather than the big picture. When it comes to goal-setting, leaders should focus on what’s truly important, not the little things that seem critical right now. Goals should be measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, focussed on aspects that will be important in the long run. Don’t let immediate crises cause you to misjudge your goals.

3. Not paying attention to goals daily
Many goals seem far off, so there’s a tendency to not pay attention and work on them every day. And that’s a grave mistake. As leaders you will have a lot on your plate, but you need to take the time out to work on your goals every day, only then can you achieve your goals. Goal setting and achievement requires constant attention. Small wins lead to big results, so break down your big goal into smaller daily, weekly, and monthly targets. Then create an action plan to support every strategic objective and achieve those smaller goals consistently.

4. Having rigid goal plans
Flexibility is what allows you to improve your reach when it comes to goal setting and adopting a somewhat flexible approach allows you some future wiggle room. This type of planning facilitates development and growth, which essentially means it’s context reactive. Rules, structures, and processes are a necessary part of any organisation and they help keep things on track. But too much of a rigid mindset will lead to missed opportunities. The overall purpose is to choose an efficient approach that leads to the achievement of goals with maximum efficiency. So be open to changes so as to achieve your goal efficiently and faster.

5. Not investing enough in goal activities
If you’re the sort of leader who expects outcomes with no significant inputs, then you need to change your approach. To reach the goal you need to raise the productivity levels, standards and commitment and across all areas of the business. If you do not invest well during the goal activities, there will be significant limitations to your progress. Good leaders ensure efficient resources are proportionately allocated, so that there’s no underinvestment or overinvestment.

6. Lack of accountability
Setting clear goals and assigning them out isn’t the end of the road. More often than not leaders define responsibilities but do not attach accountability. This is a mistake. Leaders need to create a culture that has clear accountability for tasks. This accountability extends from the leader to the person responsible for working on the goal. This way you’re steering away from the blame game and creating a more focussed mindset, where people and the business both thrive. Leaders need to empower their teams to encourage accountability, rather than creating a culture of fear and anxiety. Along with clear and realistic goals, leaders should also provide the support of appropriate resources and/or training if required. Providing feedback at key steps along the way in another important aspect of this.

Photograph: Ijeab – 

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