Leading and Managing: The 3 Risks of Excessive Target Setting

Goals are good right?  From my perspective they are but for some they can be de-motivational and even just pointless.  Let’s be frank, any organisation or individual wants to have some idea of the direction they are going.  In business this is often expressed in terms of business strategy or business plans.  On an individual level it can be related to career planning for example.

On the other hand there are risks too of excessive target or goal setting.  So what are the risks?

Risk 1: People lose sight of the purpose

Every organisation was established for a particular purpose.  In the early days the purpose or reason why the business existed was crystal clear and understood by all of those involved. 

As a business grows it starts to become more and more difficult and as a result it is easy to lose sight of the purpose.  At that point it is all too easy to end up with targets or goals that are not connected to the purpose or reason why the organisation or team was established.

Make sure that from time to time you remind everyone of the core purpose from time to time and ensure that your goals and targets are connected to that purpose.

Risk 2: Box ticking is what matters

We often see this in organisations.  People start to become so obsessed with getting a good assessment against the targets set.  At this point they probably become less connected to what the customer, client or service or user needs.

Some will claim that this just happens in big public sector organisations.  Yet in truth it is just the same for large public companies where the City has certain expectations around performance.

Risk 3: People take excessive risks

The financial services sector and banking in particular might well provide the most recent and high profile example.  Yet in truth where you have a culture of succeed at all costs, people will take excessive risks.

Bottom Line- Goals and targets have there place but make sure that they are connected to the results you want to achieve and the core purpose of the organisation.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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