Realistic Target Setting - Part 1

by Stacey Barr - Date: 2007-03-26 - Word Count: 401 Share This!

Some of the most common worries about setting targets for performance measures are:

* challenge 1: Striking that sensitive balance between making the target achievable but also a stretch.

* challenge 2: Creating that sense of urgency that will motivate people to hunger after the target.

* challenge 3: Having a measure or means of monitoring progress as the target timeframe approaches.

I'd like to share some ideas with you, about how to lessen the burden when you come face to face with worries like these.

idea #1: don't strike a balance between achievable and stretch - do both

What I've learned is that it takes practice and confidence-building to achieve a target or goal. Why not set at least two or three targets for any single performance improvement? The first one is shorter term and not very challenging, for the purpose of building target-accomplishing momentum. The interim target is an opportunity to build more capability and confidence to stretch. The last one is the stretchy target, which you might have no idea of how to reach at this point in time, but be in a better position to know after you've achieved the interim target.

idea #2: use vivid and specific language to describe the world after the target is accomplished

Numbers alone are hardly enough to motivate anyone. So handing a team a performance measure + target value + timeframe won't likely be enough motivation. Have you ever tried telling the story about what the world (or at least your part of it) is like after the target is met? Colour, sound, movement, emotion, expression, behaviour, shape, rhythm and all those other sensory experiences emblazon the meaning of the target into the minds and hearts of those setting out to achieve it. Motivation from within is the best kind.

idea #3: make sure your measure can be monitored at least 6 times within the target timeframe

Design your measure so you can calculate it as regularly as is feasible, and then set a target timeframe that accommodates frequent enough feedback to increase your chances of staying on track. For example, monitor your measure weekly or monthly for a 1 to 2 year target timeframe. Yes, sometimes you just can't get data this frequently, but that doesn't change the fact that a single point of data says nothing. Is it worth setting a target that you cannot honestly know is achieved?

Look out for part 2, for the next 3 challenges of target setting!

Related Tags: metric, business goals, kpi, balanced scorecard, performance measure, key performance indicator

Stacey Barr is the Performance Measure Specialist, helping people to measure their business strategy, goals and objectives so they actually achieve them.

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