How Do You Measure Up?

As we approach the end of the year most of us formally or informally, take some time to review current year and look towards the next. By now most large companies have completed next year’s budgets and established sales goals, and are probably are almost finished with updating their dashboards and report templates to be able to measure next year’s sales. Its good business and most would agree that drives achievement.

Then why, according to the 4th Annual Staples National Business Survey, did more than 80% of the 300 small business owners surveyed say they don’t keep track of their business goals, and 77% have yet to achieve their vision for their company?

With that statistic, it should be no real surprise that individuals have similar statistics. According to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals, 16% do have goals but don’t write them down, and fewer than 1% review them on an ongoing basis.

Why don’t small businesses and individuals create, write-down, and review goals regularly? I am fairly certain that it is not because small businesses and individuals look for ways to fail and not achieve success. I believe two words have the biggest impact on goals: structure and accountability.

Structure creates organization, helps establish a baseline of processes and systems, and allows a sense of the known. Humans are afraid of many things, but “the unknown” edges rank in the top three, according to Dr. Laura Markham who trained as a Clinical Psychologist at Columbia University. Reducing the “unknown” edges with structure fosters better communication, increase teamwork, and better decision-making. Having structure allows expectations to be clarified so that people take charge of their own activities and improves performance.

It is not difficult to acquire a skill, but it does require a degree of conscious effort. Accountability creates focused action, self-awareness and a connection to our surroundings. A Conference Board survey of American workers revealed that over half the American workforce does not feel engaged in their work. The results of this survey reported job satisfaction at 45 percent, its lowest level since 1987. How we demonstrate accountability in our daily lives essentially defines our relationships to every activity that occurs within our lives. Personal and organizational accountability is the foundational building block for every improvement effort and is always the underlying factor of success.

Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews found that people who wrote down their goals, shared this information with a friend, and sent weekly updates to that friend were on average 33% more successful in accomplishing their stated goals than those who merely formulated goals. Her study provides “empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools: accountability, commitment and written goal”.

To have success, we need to create a structure where individuals and organizations can be accountable to themselves and those around them. We need a structure that is known and communicated consistently. Where we are “present” in the moment, focused on what is in front of us, and connected to those around us. We need time to reflect and dream. We need a plan that is written out, to make it real, that can measure our progress and change as we learn new information. Lastly, we need to share the plan with people who are connected to it. That allows people to be invested in the process and outcomes, find new solutions when we fall short, and celebrate the success. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *