Sometimes, the worst thing you can do with a goal is achieve it.
Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? After all, isn’t the purpose of a goal to meet it? Therefore, the worst thing you should be able to do with a goal is fail to meet it. However, not all goals are created equal.
In fact, sometimes goals, though they appear happy and wonderful in nature, are quite unhealthy and result in damaging effects.
How a Goal Can Be Unhealthy
Done properly, a goal can motivate your team towards a unified objective. Done incorrectly, and goal setting begins to develop a “by any means necessary” work ethic or an “I’m in this for me” mentality.
An unhealthy goal is often overly specific and narrow in focus, making it easy to forget what you’re actually trying to achieve. These goals often sound good on paper, but in execution, they breed unhealthy consequences.
Generally, they begin with good intentions.
Good Goals Gone Bad
It’s very easy to take a goal that’s originally good, and push it to a place that’s unhealthy. Let’s say you and your team are out camping, and everyone is given the materials to set up their own tent. Your goal is simple: you need to build the tent so you can have a protected place to sleep.
It’s only mid-day, so you have time to sort your materials, plan out where everything goes, assemble it, and then, inspect it to make sure it’s correct. By late afternoon, you are rewarded with properly assembled tent. Also, during your assembly, you see one of your fellow campers struggling with a part of their tent that you already have assembled.
Having some time on your hands, you step over and assist them. Everyone wins.
Now, let’s say when you’re given your tent materials, you’re told you only have 20 minutes to put it together so that your team can go on a hike. By the time you get back from the hike, it’ll be dark, so you won’t be able to assemble it then. Suddenly, your priorities shift drastically. You don’t particularly care if the tent is put together correctly. You don’t have the time to plan things out.
All you focus on is getting some sort of finished product before your twenty minutes is up.
Your fellow camper is once again struggling to put together their tent, but you don’t care about their tent. You need to get your tent up. It’s their fault if they don’t complete their build on time.
When the 20 minutes are up, you have some semblance of a tent. It stands and appears to be connected at the corners. Sure, you have a few extras pieces leftover, but they probably weren’t that important.
There’s a chance that tent could get you through the night, but all it will take is some rain or a strong gust of wind to bring it all down.
Spotting an Unhealthy Goal
Unhealthy goals are often ones that promote excess quantity or speed. Goals like these might achieve initial results, but those results are often not sustainable. If you’re sales goals are driven entirely by volume, it’s easy to start bringing on clients and business regardless of whether or not it’s healthy.
If you’re goals focus on the individual rather than the team as a whole, you start to build an internal competition that devalues working together.
And when a goal focuses too much on numbers, it could result in taking advantage of the customers. Certain auto shops in the past have been caught inflating their rates and finding car problems where there aren’t any so they can hit certain dollar amounts for the day.
There’s also the negative effects these goals have when they’re not met. Missing goals, healthy or not, often leave you feeling like you’ve failed or didn’t do your job. Rather than motivating you forward like a goal should, it puts you down.
Setting Better Goals
This isn’t to say goals don’t have a place in business. They simply need to be set with care for the business as a whole. Smaller, broader, achievable goals can add extra drive, build momentum, and increase a worker’s feeling of accomplishment.
Meanwhile, KPIs and other metrics can be utilized to track the larger picture and keep realistic expectations of growth.
With that said, maybe your next business goal should be to eliminate any unhealthy goals you currently have. Replace those with positive goals, and watch the difference it can make in your business.
Need help building better, sustainable goals? Contact me today and learn the art of strategic planning!