As a business owner, you have probably heard of SMART goals. If not, the acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Setting SMART goals for your company gives you and your employees a sense purpose, keeps everyone on track, and most of all, goals get things done!
Sometimes, though, SMART goals can keep your company in a box without you realizing it. SMART goals are a great place to start if you’re not sure what you want or need to accomplish. But if you’re only using them to “play it safe,” then it’s time to change your outlook on goal-setting. Set some crazy goals, or if you prefer, stretch goals.
Grab the Bull by its Horns
Many sources, like The Harvard Business Review, will caution you against using stretch goals. They claim that they are too risky and rarely work. However, if you use stretch goals correctly they have the potential to motivate employees, raise revenue and increase productivity. To the rest of the world your big goals may seem unachievable and ridiculous but if you have the right motivation and mindset you may find that yourself accomplishing more than you ever imagined.
Why You Should Set Crazy Goals
Don’t let the naysayers scare you away. Even if you do not successfully achieve what you set out to do, you stand to learn a lot from setting big goals.
1. They Encourage Outside-the-Box Thinking
Setting crazy goals means you can’t think small. Ambitious goals help change the mindset of the employees. It inspires them to think bigger and take risks that they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
You have to come up with creative ways to reach the desired result. It could mean acting silly to make your customers laugh. It may seem odd but most consumers are more compelled by things that make them feel good. If your employees are making the consumer laugh odds are they’re feeling good about what they’re purchasing.
2. They Motivate Employees
When employees aren’t motivated they struggle to stay focused on the task at hand. By creating “mini-goals” and deadlines you help employees stay motivated. Mini-goals allow employees to see the progress they are making with their task. That progress gives them a sense of achievement. This, in turn, motivates them to work harder and with more enthusiasm than before. As they increase their productivity your employees will become more and more motivated to reach due dates.
3. They Challenge Your Fear of Failure
Even if you don’t meet your goal that’s okay! The point of creating crazy goals isn’t always to achieve them. Should you tell your employees that you wish to increase revenue by 25% and they only increased it by 15% you have still increased revenue!
Along the way you have also learned what does and does not work. That in itself is something to celebrate. By learning your company’s shortcomings you know how to fix them so you don’t run into the same problem when you create a stretch goal for the next quarter or year.
The Key to Making Stretch Goals
Forbes explains that the most important thing you must realize about stretch goals is that their success depends on your motivations. Most companies make the mistake of rooting their motivation in money. “Financial goals bring out the selfish gene that lurks in all of us,” says writer Steve Denning.
Take Wells Fargo for instance. Employees fraudulently created accounts to boost their sales revenue. Some employees did it because they felt pressure from upper management to achieve unrealistic goals, and others did it for the bonuses they received. As a result, the bank lost 5,300 employees, reports CNN. Even worse, they lost lifelong customers.
Had Wells Fargo created a goal that appealed to “human excellence,” as Forbes suggested, rather than a financial goal it might have prevented the loss of thousands of employees and customers.
Motivational speakers always encourage their listeners to “dream big!” Even if your goal seems unrealistic at first, with hard work and perseverance, you and your company can reach any goals your heart desire. It may take longer than you expected but that’s okay. It’s not always a matter how quickly you reach the goal but knowing that you can get there that counts.