Running a business can be tough and chaotic at times and plans will almost always get demolished when they are being put into reality. However, not having one will almost always lead to certain doom. This is why I believe it’s important to think about goals and plans as paths instead. Focus on staying near the path as close as possible but if you deviate slightly it’s okay, as long as you are within a few steps. This gives you a little wiggle room for the chaos that will surely ensue.
Focus On The Path At Hand.
In business, we always set KPIs and goals to gauge how our business is doing compared to last month and others. Amid the series of numbers and the onslaught of dashboards make sure you’re not losing sight of your path. The path is your “why” and “how” you are trying to accomplish. It’s the gut feeling and true guidepost of your business. Generally, this can be extrapolated from your mission and vision statement. Use your mission to forge the path you are on then let the metrics keep you in line with where you should be.
Think of your path as your moral compass for your business. It’s a grey area that is defined by gut feelings and a list of emotions and does’s and don’ts. However, it really guides you throughout your life and ultimately leads to your success or lack thereof. Being honest, open, and caring may lead you down a different path no matter what you are practicing in your job. Where the opposite will most certainly lead you down another. Just like in your life this happens in business also.
Why Does A Path Matter?
Losing sight of your path for the sake of metrics will leave you lost in the woods. Customers and employees become jaded by the lack of a deep reason to buy your product. One example of this can be cited in an article from the Harvard Business Review where they studied Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo had a big uptick in credit card and deposit accounts for customers. They later realized most of these accounts were created without the consent of the customers. This of course led to upset customers and management. Later, Wells Fargo realized that they set metrics to make these accounts without strategic backing. It led to the dishonest creation of accounts and offered no strategic backing. When setting metrics, ensure they are filled with cultural purpose, honest intent, and backed by company strategy. Setting a rigid goal that rewards unethical behavior reinforces bad company culture and strategy. In the worst-case scenario, like the Wells Fargo example, it leads to employees taking unethical actions to meet metrics. Worse yet, the actions didn’t even back the company’s strategy. Losing on all fronts.
Metrics Still Matter
I’m sure some will be screaming about goals! We have goals to meet and a profit to make! And I agree. Every business’s goal is to make a profit. Therefore we need to watch KPIs and metrics. When setting KPIs and metrics you need to ensure that your strategy is first and let the metrics reinforce the strategy. Set KPIs to give guidance on where and how employees and managers should be aiming. To do so, add a little more to already SMART goals.
Making S-SMART goals keep your business on the path and reinforces your core competencies.
Keep Metrics S-SMART
When defining metrics, keep in mind that goals and KPIs should be SMART. Which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Specific. This is all well in good but going back to the Wells Fargo example this can still cause the same issue. The first step of goal setting should be to add another “S” to a SMART goal, making it S-SMART. This added “S” stands for Strategic. Like Superman’s S on his chest this added “S” strengthens goals and reinforces the symbols the brand stands for.
Defining how the new metric will work into the company strategy first will ensure that the goal aligns with and reinforces the brand strategy. Making S-SMART goals keep your business on the path and reinforces your core competencies. Starting with strategy makes it more likely that the goal will reinforce company values instead of making metrics for metric’s sake.
Where To Go From Here?
Start by looking back on your mission, focus on the emotion and bring it to the forefront of what you are trying to accomplish. You can learn more about this in our article Better Brand in 4 Steps.
If you are unsure about the path you should be on, speaking with a colleague, mentor, or consultant may help you answer this valuable question. Then with their help, you can work on the truly difficult part… Staying on the path!
- Focus on your “how” and “why”
- Use metrics to keep on track not lead the way
- Strategy pushes metrics and profits. Not the other way around.
- Set S-SMART goals.