Goal setting

7 reasons why organizations fail to achieve goals

By on November 3, 2016

You would rarely find an organization that doesn’t set goals. In the same breath, you’d rarely find organizations that consistently achieve their goals. Success or failure to achieve organizational goals stems from individual contributors’ efforts. Thus, any organization is as good as its fundamental building blocks – its people.

Let us decode a few of the pivotal reasons behind why organizations fail to achieve goals.

why organisations fail to achieve their goals

1. No Buy-in From Employees

All would agree employees are core to the goal achievement strategy. But few employers actually ensure buy-in from them. Making employees primary stakeholders in the goal setting process is the underpinning of a successful execution. Goal alignment is one of the proven tactics companies use for this purpose. Couple that with bottom-up goal setting process. You have got a recipe for successful execution.

Traditional processes suggest dictating goals to the individual contributors. Modern performance management recommends guiding individuals to set apt goals.

2. Lack of Intellectually Challenging Goals

Stretch goals provide reasons for teams to up their game. It is fundamental human nature to seek excellence by way of exciting challenges. Set monotonous targets. More often than not they will end up discouraging employees. Aim for things larger than any individuals. You are already on course for building a winning team.

New age goal setting frameworks such as OKRs echo this thought process.

3. Goals Only In Pursuit of Material Wealth

Old school companies set material goals e.g. ‘Become profitable’,’Increase profits by 30%’ and so on.  Making profits is always a business goal, it is a no brainer. But if projected as the ultimate aim, it tends to dampen the spirits of the workforce. Aligning material goals with intellectual ones is one of the challenging aspects. That is where many companies fail to inspire.

Build a clear line-of-sight with aligned goals. Make employees realize how their efforts are affecting the bottom line.

4. No Clarity On Definition of Success-Failure

Many teams are quite diligent when it comes to setting up goals. Goals are set at decided frequency & communicated to the entire team. Having done that, the organisational goals are not achieved at the end. Reason? – there is no clear, objective measurement of success & failure. Lack of a clear definition leads to non-actionable goals.

OKRs use SMART checklist while designing the objectives. Key results define how the success or failure of the corresponding objectives is measured.

5. Goals Are Not Discussed Frequently

Setting goals is a collaborative exercise. Executing goals is an equally collaborative process. Many companies at the end of the day end up with a ‘Set & Forget’ scenario when it comes to goals. If goals are not referred to at the right time, their importance is not conveyed to the team. Leading to loss of seriousness when it comes to try & achieve them. It is also important that the most important goals remain in front of the employees as much as possible. Making use of physical status boards, large displays are some quick solutions.

Set up dedicated meetings, town halls & all hands sessions to discuss goals at all level. Whether they are at risk of non-completion or already complete. It is important to know reasons behind their current state.

6. Lack Of A Streamlined Process & Tool

First time adopters of goal setting processes are over-enthusiastic. Whereas teams who have been through the process are disillusioned, treating the process just as an unnecessary evil. If there is no method to the Goals management madness, it is going to end up as an exercise in futility. Make sure a process is documented before adopting MBOs or OKRs. Although the documentation will always be work in progress, it will give everyone a starting point. Stay away from knee-jerk procedural changes & make sure that the goals management process is constantly bettered.

One of the major pain points in executing a goals management strategy is lack of a dedicated & suitable tool. Excel sheets & Google docs have their limitations when it comes to scalability. Appropriate goals management tool is a key ingredient for making organisational goals successful.

7. Treating Goal Setting As A Magic Wand

Finally, one major problem companies face is – mindset. Setting goals is just beginning of the process. Commitment to successful execution cannot be replaced by an enterprise tool. It is a team that ensures through its consistent & aligned efforts that company goals exceed their definition of success.

What other reasons do you think can cause organisations fail when trying to achieve their goals! Let us know in comments.

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