5 Barriers to Achieving Business Goals
Organizations that use strategy and goals to move the business forward are dependent on how well goals are achieved to fulfill strategic direction. Having a structured performance management process is the most important part in setting goals and achieving them. Accomplishing strategy is dependent on the ability to achieve business goals.
Well written SMART goals lay out the framework and accountability for goal completion and managing performance. However, there are barriers inherent in many organizations that limit the ability to achieve goals and ultimately strategy. If organizations are aware of these barriers they can put processes in place to avoid these common pitfalls.
5 Barriers to Achieving Business Goals
1. Changing Strategy
Continually assessing how an organization is doing and changing direction is expected in today’s fast paced business environment and should be taken into consideration when developing strategy and writing goals. But when strategy changes, goals should be adjusted to reflect the new direction otherwise strategy is hindered.
2. Decision Making Process
It is unfortunate, but it is common for goals to be held up by the decision makers themselves. When a pivotal decision that needs to be made before a goal can be completed is held up by the manager who has the decision making authority, it delays the entire process. For example, lets say there is a department goal to change vendors for payroll services by the end of the 3rd quarter. The accounting manager gets bids and negotiates with three different vendors, presents the bids to her director but the department director doesn’t give the final approval to move forward. In this instance the accounting manager has taken the goal as far as she can so should not be held accountable for the goal not being completed. However, the department director who holds up the process is the person responsible for the goal not being completed and should be held accountable at the end of the goal period.
3. Lack of Resources
Accomplishing any goal is dependent on three things – people, time and money. There needs to be someone responsible for completing the goal and that person has to have the time and budgeted resources to work on the goal. For example, if the marketing manager has a goal to revamp the organizations website with a new logo, look and feel by the end of the 2nd quarter, but does not have the budget dollars to pay a designer and webmaster, their ability to achieve that goal will be hindered. This is why it is important to incorporate annual goals into the budgeting process to ensure the resources are available to support the completion of the goal.
4. Unclear Expectations
Goals should be written using the SMART model because this format by design creates very clear expectations. When goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely there can be no confusion about what exactly needs to be done to accomplish the goal. For example, if a purchasing manager has a goal of researching new phone plans (not very specific) as opposed to having a goal of reducing phone expense by 10% by the end of 20XX, the second goal is very clear on what the expectation is in a measurable way.
5. Not Perceived Priority
Sometimes goals are the main focus at the beginning of the year but as the months go by the attention and chatter slows. Achieving goals needs to be kept at the forefront by continuing to have conversations about them or it may be perceived that the goals are no longer important. Goals should be discussed on a regular basis until they are achieved.
The difficulty in managing any organization is balancing the day-to-day responsibilities with the time and attention needed to achieve annual goals. This tender balance can be a challenge in today’s faced paced environment but needs to be a priority or another year will go by without moving the organization forward and implementing strategy.