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It’s the end of December! Businesses around the world are planning for the new year and thinking about what they’d like to accomplish in the coming year. Call them what you will — goals, objectives, milestones, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — it’s important for small businesses to plan and set targets for the business and your employees.
Objectives help you and your employees stay on course, improve communication within your company and ultimately help your business run more efficiently. Objectives help employees understand what they should be focusing on at work and help you stop stressing over whether or not your employees are doing what you had in mind. They can help you spend less time task-managing your teams, and more time bringing your small business dreams to life!
Where to start? First, think of what you’d like the business to accomplish as a whole next year. A good example might be to reach a revenue number or to grow a certain percentage. These objectives are at a company level and something that no one person can accomplish on their own. That’s where building out individual objectives comes in.
Ladder up with SMART objectives.
After you determine your company-level objectives, team and individual objectives follow to support your larger small business goals.
When creating objectives, the SMART model is a straightforward one to follow:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
Essentially, avoid creating objectives that are so far fetched that no one could complete them. Challenging objectives are great, but keep in mind the A and R of SMART. Additionally, most goals should have a component that can be measured.
In our example above of reaching a revenue goal, think of what each team and each employee might do to support that goal. Team and individual objectives ladder up to and support reaching those company-level objectives. Let’s check out a few examples of how these objectives might look for a company:
Company-level objective – Reach $100,000 of monthly recurring revenue in 2023
Sales team – Close 50 new deals in the first quarter (Q1) to bring Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) to $70,000
Senior Sales Person – Close 10 new deals in Q1 or report $5,000 in additional MRR
Account Executive – Decrease churn by 1% in Q1
As a general rule, try to break your team and individual objectives into quarterly milestones — they’re easier to measure that way. Plus, don’t forget how reviewing quarterly helps with keeping things on track and pivoting when needed. Besides, it feels good to see what teams accomplish each quarter!
Notice that these objectives don’t outline the how — that’s why you hired your team! Their job is to do the tasks to complete the objectives. Together, this team is working toward one goal, but each person has ownership over their part. This helps teams stay laser focused and helps employees feel like they’re contributing to the company throughout the year.
How to create objectives.
When creating an individual objective, continue to think about the company-level goals. If you can tie the individual objectives back to the company-level, you’re good to go! If you feel like it’s not working out that way, perhaps a new company-level objective is in order or a re-evaluation of whether or not the objective is mission-critical.
If you have managers, have each of them determine objectives for their teams with their team members’ input. That way, everyone involved feels like they’re able to give input, can understand what the overall goal is and be well-aligned!
Make sure your objectives are tracked somewhere so that progress can be updated and visible to your team. Documenting objectives and updating progress in one place not only keeps things organized, but can also give you a visual glimpse of the ongoing work and make evaluations easier. People by Wagepoint has a simple, easy-to-use objective tracking solution for small businesses, so you can ensure your team is not losing track of their progress!
How often to evaluate objectives.
Objectives should be reviewed often. Weekly one-on-ones are a great time to talk about individual objective progress, and update the progress wherever objectives are tracked. During these weekly meets, employees can let their manager know if there are any blockers or if the objective is off track so they can both come up with a solution to get things back on course or pivot as needed.
The good news is that we’re not writing objectives in stone, and of course there are factors that might veer us off track, so checking in often and updating objectives is key to understanding what, if any, changes need to be made.
Objectives can then be discussed in quarterly reviews and used as a way to evaluate employee and company performance annually.
Stick with it!
This all sounds great on paper, but in practice it’s easy to set and forget objectives. Make sure you have a defined process and get buy-in from your employees. Set objective review calls with the entire company at different intervals throughout the year so everyone is on the same page. Objectives can help your entire company understand how they are expected to contribute and where their work should be focused.
Get those teamwork juices flowing in 2023 with objectives that get the job done and leave everyone feeling good about the growth of your small business. You got this!