How I Plan to Set Goals for 2017
If you are already thinking ahead to 2017, you aren’t alone. For many, 2016 was a crapshoot – John Oliver’s F*ck You 2016. However, since 2017 is right around the corner, I thought it might be a good idea to discuss how I plan to set goals for the upcoming year.
If you are wondering why I am thinking about setting goals for 2017 in the middle of November, well, the answer is simple. I did a terrible job of setting goals for myself and my firm in 2016. This fact became painfully obvious earlier this week when my office manager, Ms. See, and I sat down to discuss whether or not the office will be open and the staff would be working between Christmas and New Years.
Practically speaking, the time between Christmas and New Years, usually 3 to 4 days, has been offered to the staff in the beginning of each year as paid time off should the office reach its revenue goal for the entire year. Unfortunately, 2016 presented some obstacles. 2016 is the first year that Wallace Pierce Law hasn’t reached or exceeded its revenue goals. Frankly, the failure had nothing or little to do with staff performance.
As such, Ms. See and I sat down to discuss these facts, and less than 3 minutes into the conversation her position was clear. Why should the staff be forced to work when the goals set in January 2016 were not achievable? Why did we not adjust the goals or evaluate our goals during the course of the year? And finally, how did we even come up with some of these goals?
The net result of this meeting was that it was clear that our goals were set improperly and were not grounded in the reality of what the business was experiencing. The solution to this problem is to start early, set better goals and avoid the mistakes of 2016.
So, in the interest of doing a better job, here’s how I plan to set goals for 2017:
Put Our Goals in Writing
In previous years, I had created goals for the firm in my mind, and during our first staff meeting of the new year I simply announced our plans to conquer this goal and that.
While there are several things wrong with this approach, the purpose of any goal is to act as a reminder that there is a specific target. An unwritten goal fails for a variety of reasons, but most notably, an unwritten goal doesn’t hang on a wall nor is it obvious to the team. In 2017, our goals will be written and placed in plain sight.
Too Many Goals
In 2016, we made goals for each almost every metric we tracked. This meant that we were trying to improve on some metrics that didn’t matter. As a result, I have realized that some metrics are so unimportant that their existence will literally have no bearing on the success or failure of the business in any regard. Goals should be important. Setting and achieving goals should have an impact on the business and the bottom line. Otherwise, what’s the point?
When one sets a goal, it is important to spend time understanding why the goal is important to the business. Moreover, the goal should be specific in nature. In 2016, one of our goals was to sign more clients in 2016 than 2015. This goal existed to inflate our egos and make the team feel good. This goal serves no real or business purpose.
Therefore, our goal in 2017 is going to be significantly more specific. In 2017, we are going to sign twenty (20) percent more clients per financial quarter than we did in 2016.
Evaluate the Goals Regularly
During the course of the entire year, we did not stop to reflect on whether the goals we set in January were still viable. As the year progressed, many of the goals were no longer practical because of the changes that the firm has undergone. Therefore, in 2017, I plan to evaluate or re-evaluate each goal on a regular basis to determine whether the goal is still practical or whether it should be adjusted.
Making Goals as a Team
Given that the goals will need to be achieved by the team, I think that it is both fair and reasonable that the team have some input as to the goals we set. In 2017, I plan to schedule a meeting with the entire office to discuss what goals we should set and what the incentives should be for reaching those goals. I think that it is important for the team to have some say as to the nature of the goals and the rewards that flow from achieving said goals.
Using Data to Create Goals
Finally, in 2017, I plan to use the data we have tirelessly collected to assist us in making better goals. One of the most significant mistakes that I made in 2016 was setting revenue goals that were astronomically high in hopes of encouraging the team to aim big. Unfortunately, this unrealistic goal has a chilling effect on our performance in a variety of different ways.
Regardless, given that we have been vigilant in collecting and maintaining data for a variety of different but valuable metrics, I believe that this data could be instrumental in ensuring that our goals for 2017 are realistic and achievable.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h