Debunking the Stretch Goal Myth: Set Clear Goals to Drive Results
Redefining Success: Ditch the Stretch Goals and Drive Results with Clear, Actionable Targets
📊 DELIVER: Driving Results
This week, we're exploring the concept of "stretch goals" and why they might not be the best approach to driving results in your team. As new team leaders and managers, it's important to set clear, actionable goals to ensure your team performs at its best. Let's dive into why stretch goals might not be the answer and how you can set better targets.
What are Stretch Goals?
Stretch goals are often used in corporate settings, where managers push their teams to achieve outcomes beyond their original targets or plans. For example, if a team agrees to sell 100 widgets this month, a manager may introduce a "stretch goal" of 110 widgets as a way to encourage their team to reach higher.
The Problem with Stretch Goals
While stretch goals might sound like a great idea in theory, they can cause confusion and frustration within a team. If a team reaches their original goal of 100 widgets but falls short of the stretch goal of 110, does that mean they've failed? On the other hand, if they surpass the stretch goal and sell 115 widgets, what's the next target? What is the incentive? What did they learn?
This ambiguity can make it difficult for team members to understand their true objectives and can lead to a lack of motivation or even demoralization. After all, if stretch goals are the actual target, why not make them the primary goal in the first place?
A More Effective Approach
To drive results more effectively, consider setting clear and achievable goals for your team, rather than introducing stretch goals. Focus on identifying the 1-2 key deliverables that will bridge the gap between what your team can produce and the unmet need of your customers. This way, you're prioritizing the supply and demand aspects of your product or service.
To implement this approach, consider these actionable steps:
Set realistic, well-defined goals: Ensure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This helps your team understand what's expected of them and keeps them focused on the task at hand.
Over-communicate expectations clearly: Make sure your team understands their goals and how their individual contributions align with the overall objectives. Encourage open dialogue and prioritize roadblocks. Establish more frequent albeit brief check-ins to identify, escalate, and resolve issues.
Break goals down into smaller milestones: Divide larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks, and set deadlines for each milestone. This helps your team stay on track and motivated. This is a key tenet of Agile Principles & Practices.
Monitor progress and provide feedback: Make the prioritized list of objectives highly visible to everyone. Regularly assess your team's performance and provide constructive feedback to help them improve. Celebrate successes and learn from setbacks together.
Adjust goals as needed: Stay flexible and adapt goals to any changes in your team's circumstances, resources, or the market. This allows you to remain agile and respond effectively to new challenges. Another key tenet of Agile: plan only for those things that you know won’t change in the near-term.
By cutting through the bureaucracy and zeroing in on what truly matters, you can find the path of least resistance to achieving your targets. This approach eliminates the confusion and demoralization that can come from stretch goals, and empowers your team to focus on the tangible outcomes that lead to success.
The Bottom Line
Stretch goals might seem like a good idea to push your team further, but they often create more problems than they solve. To drive results and execute projects effectively, set clear and achievable goals that align with your team's capabilities and your customers' needs.
By shifting your mindset and putting in play the steps above, you’ll be ready to ditch stretch goals and drive results with clear, actionable targets.