With Goal Setting Less is More

With Goal Setting Less is More

Setting the bar too high can end up intimidating your employees and discouraging them from ever getting started. Having a legion of ambitious goals sounds great, right? Well, not necessarily. Too many goals will hinder the productivity of your organization. How? Read on to know how doing less will help your organization in accomplishing more. 

With Goal Setting Less is More

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Have you ever wondered on why the phone numbers are structured in chunks split by dashes? This is because the human brain works at best when it’s focused on lesser things. The more we are made to focus on more things at once, the more we are likely to scatter our focus. This same notion applies to setting organizational goals. 

We’ve heard it innumerable times – setting goals is the key to success for the organization. Goals undeniably serve as a road map for the organization. Although, goal setting is one of the most arduous tasks faced by a leader. There are short and long-term goals, plus the overall organization’s objectives to consider in addition to employee and team objectives. All of them have to be relevant and timely enough to stimulate motivation in the organization but they cannot be so fine-tuned that the teams feel micromanaged. Striking the balance can indeed be a tough nut to crack. If the goals are not set in a correct manner, they are about as good as sunglasses on a cloudy day. 

Despite their importance, in the vast majority of cases, setting goals doesn’t yield the desired results. According to a study by the Economist, as many as 90% of organizations fail to attain their established goals. Despite the huge relevance of goals, why are so many organizations not able to get them right? Leaders’ meaningful attempts to get their organization on track often flounder as no one has a clear vision on the goals they should be focusing on the most.  Whether you refer to them as objectives, goals, or priorities – burdening your employees with a whole lot of them won’t guarantee you success. Make sure to always remember the principle – “less is more” while setting the goals. 

As obvious as it can get, the lesser goals your organizational teams will strive to achieve at a particular time, the more profitable results they will deliver in the end. One of the most indispensable elements for goal setting is the relationship between the number of goals and productivity. At the first glance, you may assume that juggling multiple goals together will boost the productivity of your teams. Alas, that is not the case. Having too many goals absolutely shatters the focus and productivity of the employees and teams. When leaders roll out seven, fifteen, or twenty goals, every employee from the frontline to C-suite loses track of them. 

Let us now take a quick glance at why allotting a substantial amount of goals to your employees is a blunder and why less is more when it comes to goal-setting. 

Time to act, time to reflect

As a leader, you must already be aware that apart from working on the goals, the employees need to have the time to stop and give their efforts careful thought. Instead of spinning different wheels simultaneously and being at the risk of getting too far in the wrong direction, employees should have sufficient time to analyze how things are going. Ask yourself, is this by any chance feasible if you give your employees a pile of different goals together? 

Focus gets scattered  

When you serve the employees with too many goals on their plate, they will either try to hover all of them with the unavoidable being that they will drop one or more of them. Or they will instead try to focus on what they think is of the most importance, being at the risk of focusing on the wrong ones. Their actions and attention will b09e all over the place – jumping back and forth, switching from one goal to another. The result? Nothing gets done, not well at least, in the manner it was ought to. 

Limited energy

Regardless of how many coffee or energy drinks are provided in your organization, this won’t be much helpful in boosting the productivity of your employees. There is an upper limit to every employee’s energy. If you are setting a dozen of goals at a time to your teams, they will be overwhelmed at some point and end up dropping one or even a bunch of them. Even if they try to stay on them of each of them, the price you pay for that is unsatisfactory and mediocre performance. 

When you set up exorbitant goals for your employees, their feeling of frustration, defeat, and disengagement can begin to affect their performance. We warn you – you can put your employees at the risk of heading towards burnout. 

How to set less but effective goals?

When it comes to organizational goal setting, leaders can forge a clear path forward for employees by establishing less but effective goals by taking the following points into consideration:

 1. Establish realistic expectations

 2. Set SMART(Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) goals

 3. Track progress

 4. Avoid micromanaging

In order to comprehend this topic in a better manner, we will take a glance at the very alluring story of Zume Pizza and how the structured goal setting will uplift your organization towards the desired success. 

As we know, OKRs and CFRs are ascertained vehicles for exponential growth and high performance. Not only this but they also have more internal, quotidian, and subtle impacts such as grooming better employees and giving the less vocal ones an opportunity to shine. On the long and demanding road of organizational success, structured goal setting assists the organizations to develop each and every day. The Zume Pizza story vividly depicts the dynamics of structure goal setting. It’s about a start-up that was able to go toe-to-toe with the giants of its industry. 

Back in the day, the $10 billion U.S. pizza delivery market was restrained by the three national chains – Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s. Even they didn’t offer life-changing pizzas, having a well-established brand enabled them to own the great advantage of the economic scale. It was in the spring of 2016 that Zume Pizza opened for business with all the odds of success stacked against them. Two years down the line, Zume smashed all the odds by baking lip-smacking pizza at a competitive price. Within three months of their launch, they were able to pocket 10 percent of the market share of its local trade area. As their business had no room for unfocused operations and misaligned employees, implementing structured goal setting made all the sense in the world. And boy, were they not bang on with their thinking? Aiming to be the “Amazon of food”, their leaders had heaps of praise for OKRs to help their company thrive in ways they couldn’t have foreseen.

 Of course, initially, they did not have the “less goal setting” approach and hence found their business a complex operation. In their own words, “if you asked us about the main thing we need to accomplish today? You’d get eight different answers.” Too many things were taking place at once with many laters of interdependencies. Being focused on venturing into large-scale manufacturing, integration of robots, development of software, and creating a new menu – they found themselves clueless about “what was the most important thing to do?” which they were eventually able to answer with the help of setting fewer goals at a time. 

Just like their organization, it’s impossible to deny the explicit value of structured goal setting – it helps to tie the organization with the true ambition of its leaders, and just like the Zume Pizza, shoot your organization to great heights! 

Goal-setting is one of the most critical parts to ensure that the organization is driving towards the desired success. To learn more about leadership capabilities for setting and monitoring goals, contact us right away! 

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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