By Muthoni Ndegwa
Martin started a retail business three years ago. At the time, he was running the business alone. With time, the business grew, and he now has a team of 12 employees. Martin wants to see the business grow and reach a wider market. However, the team has been unable to reach the goals he had set. While the company is growing, some of the employees have already left, at the exit interview, the employees said they felt the goals he had set were impossible to achieve, which demoralized their efforts.
Martin wanted to understand if the goals he was setting were negatively affecting his company.
Setting goals is an important aspect of growing your organization. It gives you an objective to work towards, so as to move the organization to a different level.
However, it’s also important to realize that sometimes, the goals you set can do more harm than good to both your employees and the organization.
What are unrealistic goals and how can they negatively affect the department you manage?
Unrealistic goals can best be described as the goals you’ve set, yet they are almost impossible to achieve. While setting goals is important, you should set goals that are ambitious, yet attainable.
Unrealistic goals can affect your employees both in the short term and in the long term.
Here are the negative short-term effects;
- Missed deadlines – Milestones help employees see how far they’ve come to achieving the set objectives. When the goal a manager has set is unattainable, the workers will spend a longer time than what is allocated to achieve the milestone. This will lead to missed deadlines, which will eventually demoralize the employees.
- Reduced quality – Quality work from your employees leads to quality services and products, which in turn leads to the growth of the company. Unrealistic goals degrade the quality of work. For example, if the goals you’ve set involve employees doing more work than they can handle, they’ll likely work on a task quickly and move to the next task so as to be done within the set deadlines.
- Increased costs – A common goal by most organizations is to cut costs. However, when not clearly thought out, this goal can negatively affect the organization. For example, one organization decided to cut cost by consolidating some of the roles. Afterward, some of the employees were termed redundant. After the employees had left, the remaining employees had to carry out more tasks, which then lead to substandard work at the end of the day. The company not only had to hire more employees, it had also lost revenue, due to the substandard work.
There are also long-term effects of setting unreachable goals. These include;
- Decreased morale – Achieving goals is a key motivator for employees. Whenever they surpass the goals, you’ll notice a jubilant mood around the workplace. If the goals set are unrealistic, employees might try to attain these goals. After a while, they will give up and lose morale.
- High employee turnover – As mentioned above, achieving goals is a great motivator for employees. When an employee constantly doesn’t achieve the set goals, they might feel as though their career has stagnated, which may lead them to leave, and look for different opportunities where they can continue growing their career.
Then, how do you, as the manager, ensure the goals you set are ambitious yet attainable? Here are a few strategies to use;
- Analyze and fix the problems faced by the teams – Before you set a goal for your team, first look at the weaknesses in the organization. Ensure the team can competently achieve the goal. For example, do they have the resources required?
- Use employee feedback –In most cases, employees have direct contact with the services and the consumer. As a result, they are best suited to understand the areas where the company can improve on. While they might not have the whole picture, from the feedback you get, you can map out the areas that need growth.
- Support your team – There are cases where a manager will set a goal for his team, yet the team does not have the proper skills and tools to execute the goal. Before you set a goal, ensure your team has the skills and tools required. If not, you can have them trained on the skills they need and provide them with the relevant tools.
We offer customized training geared towards improving your employee’s ability to execute their tasks and achieve the goals you’ve set. For more on our training, you can reach me on email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, it is important to realize goals are important in any organization. They help keep you focused on the company’s vision. Some goals, however, can cause more harm than good to your employees and the organization.
Muthoni Ndegwa is the Chief Operations Officer at Corporate Staffing Services.