Do you manage to set effective strategic goals? And are you actually going to achieve them? All of them?

People often fail to think in enough depth about what’s happening in their business, the market and what opportunities are out there. They are governed by the issues of the day: delivery times need to be met, materials need to be purchased, invoices sent, etc. etc. And they certainly do – many of the seemingly mundane day to day operations are none the less essential for any business. However, without a clear strategic framework, you won’t know whether all that operational effort is actually contributing to getting you where you want to go.

So, time does need to be (and usually is) created for discussion and decision making around strategic and tactical objectives. That often produces impressive, important and relevant results – in five years we want to have X% more market share, X% more turnover. X% more customers. X% more profit. And of course, we’ve all learned to make objectives ‘SMART’.

But what do you actually do with these new goals? Are you actually going to achieve them? All of them? Or are they destined to falter and stagnate? Will they only see light of day once a month, during an MT discussion that’s relevant but again fails to really drive anything on?

If that is the case, it’s really a pity for the amount of time and energy that’s already been invested. With that in mind, here are my 5 tips to help you ensure your goals are not just formulated, but delivered.

1. Communicate your goals
Strategic goals are your organization’s compass. They determine the course and the activities necessary to ensure you reach the destination. Not just for you, but for your employees as well. That’s why you need to ensure you make your strategic goals clear at all levels of the organization. Everyone needs to know where you’re headed. This ensures that everyone is pointing in the same direction, and gives all your employees a framework within which they can properly evaluate their activities and decision-making.

2 . Make goals operational
If you want more market share or turnover in five years’ time, you’re going to need to adapt. That change should start happening today. What is it that your employees need to do differently today than they did yesterday to ensure you stay on target? And tomorrow? The day after? Next week? Split up your strategic goals into operational goals per department, per team and where possible per employee. Make sure they’re SMART. And make your employees co-owners of your goals.

3 . Know where the wheel is
Determine which Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are going to tell you and your teams how the achievement of your goals is progressing. And just as our German friends say so succinctly: “in der Beschränkung zeigt sich erst der Meister.” The fewer KPIs, the better. Determine which indicators are genuinely interesting, and which only need to be studied if there is something specific going on. A nice example is the business that steers on 1 KPI: the gross profit divided by the salary costs. The KPI represents the added value per euro invested in personnel. As long as this is increasing, it’s going well.

4 . Make goals and performance visible
Goals can’t be hidden away in task lists and excel sheets inside someone’s computer. Buy a whiteboard, hang it in the company cafeteria, and update it with information on how the realization of the goals is going. No text or lists, but simple visual ideas. Colored smileys or red, orange and green traffic lights are understandable for everyone in the organization – at a glance.

5 . Stay actively involved
Regularly check to see how things are going. And not just from a list, an MT meeting or a report. Get out on the work floor and hear first-hand how your plans are progressing. Those are the moments when you’ll also discover what the limitations and the bottle necks are. It’s the information you need to react in time, whenever it’s necessary.

Strategic goals are not the exclusive property of the management team and they deserve far more than just a ‘to do’ point in your agenda. Strategic goals are your business’ TomTom – the navigation for all your employees. As your toolkit for making a successful future a reality, they deserve a prominent place within your organization.