Article Summary:How to create a goal-centered management system that will help your business reach its true potential.
The start of a new year is an ideal time to rethink what you want to achieve in your business this year. It's true to say that small and medium businesses must be proactive about creating their future. Without this, things just seem to "happen" without your control. A management system that is "goals-centered" is one tool that the small business can use to craft their future. This is a system of deciding what you are going to do everyday based on the goals you are working toward.
It sounds simple enough, but the research clearly shows that most small businesses don't set goals - at all. The goal setting process can seem daunting if it's unfamiliar territory, or if you have so much on your mind that you don't know where to start. This process will help you to sort through your key issues create forwards by setting goals that are innovative, resolve problems and improve results.
A goal-centered management system has 3 elements:
1. The goal or the objective you want to achieve
2. The activities required to achieve the goals, and
3. The review or evaluation process.
Here are the 5 steps required to put your goal management system in place.
1. Identifying your Goals
Start by asking yourself these three questions. If you have employees, often they have a different view about issues in the business. Including them in this process can be really valuable.
- What are the three things that irritate me the most about my business right now?
- What have I been putting off, that I know will have a positive impact on my business?
- What is working pretty well, but could be improved?
It might help you to think in terms of some common categories such as:
- skill levels, reight people in right jobs
- management style, experience
- strength of customer base, number, loyalty etc
- cash flow, capital, low debt, profit margins etc
- well-known brand, well regarded
- leading edge, innovative, short time to market, no competition, price
- flexible work practices, physical working environment, location
- automated, streamlined, productive
- capacity, product range
- low cost, efficient
- promotion strategy, marketing materials etc
2. Write down what you want to achieve for each identified goal
With your answers to the questions, actually write down how each thing would look at it's most successful. Goals should be in writing, in measurable terms and have specific timelines.
For example, if you had chosen technology, your goal might be "to implement an integrated and automated contact management system by April 30th that takes away most of the manual work I do now."
3. Break goals into measurable steps
For each goal that you've articulated, break it down into the steps you need to do. You must include timeframes for each step. In our example, the steps might be:
- Researching available contact management systems by 31 Jan
- Analyse each one along cost, technology implications, ease of learning by 29 Feb
- Decide and purchase by March
- Implement system by April 5th
- Test and undergo training by 30 April
Ensure that all the people impacted by a goal fully participate in the crafting of the goal and the action plans.
4. Allocate people to do the actions
Be clear about who is responsible for what activity.
5. Create a fail-safe tracking method to monitor success
This is absolutely essential. Without it, the business will simply continue to react rather than choose it's own direction. There are many different ways of monitoring. A simple method is to come together once per week and check where each current activity is at. You also get the opportunity to remove obstacles and plan any additional activity. If you work solo, schedule time in your diary each week to track your progress.
This process of constant review and resetting action steps based on actual progress is the hallmark of having a goal centred management system. A simple goal setting process leaves out this vital step.
Set yourself for success in 2004. Invest a few hours in careful planning and consideration, and see your business reach its true potential.
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