The best way to steer your agency towards success is to set some meaningful goals. Much research shows that goals improve employee performance and increase motivation. But how do you go about tackling this daunting task of goal-setting?
Why set goals?
Goals serve as an important focus point for directing activity. Goals drive us forward, and are especially helpful for our downline agents and administrative staff.
- Motivate staff
- Improve teamwork
- Raise individual employee performance
Most of us like to work towards something, to have a sense of making progress in achieving our targets. Working without set goals is similar to going on a journey with no destination in mind.
Numerous studies have shown that goals make employees more motivated, happier in their jobs, and basically make us all more productive.
Even writing a to-do list for our day and crossing out items as we complete them can give us a sense of accomplishment. If by the end of the day we have managed to strike off most items in our list but see that we have just a couple more not done, we would probably make that extra effort to get them done.
That's basically the idea behind setting goals. Seeing how much we have completed as we reach them, we feel good and get energised to reach the finishing line.
Challenges when setting goals for an agency
In his book Business Express: How to Create an Action Plan for Change, author Richard Newton shared three main challenges when setting goals for your business:
- Understanding the mechanics of planning, such as breaking down a big goal into smaller, more manageable ones
- Being clear on what you need to do – what are the specific action items?
- Being realistic about what you can actually do
Each stage of goal-setting can prove to be challenging, from breaking it into manageable bits to assessing if your goal is do-able.
Locke's goal-setting theory
A goal-setting theory that researcher Edwin Locke developed in 1968 is used by many organisations to help increase employee motivation. Several studies carried out to test Locke's theory found that organisations were able to maximize their profits and productivity without undertaking any major expansions or requiring large sums of money. The only difference was that they set goals for their employees.
The entire concept behind Locke's theory is that goals should be specific and measurable – not vague and general.
Examples of specific, measurable goals:
- Increase sales by 30%
- Get 40 new clients in the first half of this year
And some examples of vague goals that Locke says just won’t work:
- Produce quality work
- Work harder
- Do your best
This sounds quite obvious, but it's the very foundation of goal-setting. Here are a few more tips from Locke to bear in mind when setting goals:
- Goals should be challenging
- Employees must understand, accept and support the goal from the start
- The goal should be reviewed regularly over time
- Break down the goal into more manageable sub-goals
- Set realistic timelines
There are numerous books on this topic, but this should start you thinking about some goals you can set for your agency and downlines.