Why even achieving all your business goals will not convert to success

business-goalsIf we are allowed to generalize, we can easily conclude that we are in a goal driven economy. Every employee, every individual has something provided as a target to achieve. How well he or she is at the job assigned depends much on whether they can achieve the goal.

The Big Question.

While we can discuss tons of content regarding goals and how to work them out, I have a one very specific issue to discuss. What if all the goals that we set for our selves, our businesses and our teams are achieved? Will that guarantee success? Finally these goals were set to achieve the overall success for the company, right? So will this convert to what we want? Unfortunately, I believe in most of the cases the answer is a BIG NO!

This has much to do with Goal setting. No, not the goal setting that is done on papers and sheets where you dump hundreds of target numbers which never gets achieved. This is not the goal setting done on papers, forms and softwares; I am talking about the goal setting which is done on minds of people.

The Dichotomy of Goals

As per me every goal involves 2 parts.

  1. The goal on paper – This is the formal one you set.
  2. The sense of responsibility that the goal carries – This is the one which no one seems to bother.

To directly pump this in your brain cells lets take an example. The biggest and the most common goal that every employee has to achieve – “Customer satisfaction”. How do you define customer satisfaction differs a way lot than the way your team perceives what customer satisfaction is. (Not referring to the internal customer)

How Goals are created

This is how it goes. Someone at the top of the pyramid shouts – “We need to increase profits. Our competitors are earning more than us”. The immediate reportee/subordinate runs through the Excel files and draws a pivot chart / graphs or whatever fancy things they can. He shows the competitor earns more from repeat purchases. Ok, so we need to satisfy existing customers better than the competition so that we retain them and have repeat purchases. Now at the second level of the pyramid some one shouts “Hey, increase the customer satisfaction by at least 10%, because that’s the way we gonna be making more profits”. Now comes the third level. They are called the middle managers. In most of the cases – your immediate supervisors. They decide the targets that can prove the customer is satisfied. They shout – “Close all customer escalations within 24 hours”.

business-targetsNow anything that goes beyond 24 hours is a red mark on your mark sheet… I mean the goal sheet. You need to show you can achieve your KPIs. You need to show that whatever request comes to you gets closed is 24 hours and that as per everyone means the customer is satisfied and will increase profits.

So after this whole analysis the key to more profits burn down to you and you are all set to close tickets and requests within 24 hours. Think for a moment, Can this logically happen in all cases. What are the scenarios where the requests cant be fulfilled within 24 hours. But you are at the ground level. Why bother? Strategy is not your KPI. What matters is that the request has to be closed in 24 hrs straight. Period. Here is where we miss the sense of responsibility that the goal has.

What started as a strategy to increase profits is now worked out as a tactic to close tickets. The customer calls and – Either his request will be closed in 24 hours OR

  1. You will try to push it on other department. Which means the red mark is out of your Goal sheet. In business terms the ball s not in your court.
  2. You try to some how work around the situation. Remember whats important is closing the ticket in 24 hours. Customer satisfaction? Well what was that???
  3. Worse you can close the existing request/ticket and open another. This way you bifurcate the request in multiple requests and at each level the request closes in 24 hours. Customer satisfied? Well we dont know. Tickets closed in 24 hours. Yes, Achieved.


Hope you are getting the point. This is what seems to happen. Not only in offices but also at a personal level. We need to understand that how we define goals is important. So wheres the key? Its right there in the question we started with. – If all the goals assigned are achieved, will it guarantee the output which was the reason behind the goal assignment. If not, there is a problem with the goal. Not with the employee, nor with the supervisor,  nor the pivot charts.

It works like the Pareto’s 80/20 principle when thinking about importance. If there is no formal goal assigned to you regarding a particular activity but you seem to have the sense of responsibility required. You still will achieve it. This is what is required. This is to be done when goals are discussed. Remember goals are means to an end, and not an end in it self. Closing tickets was not the target, customer satisfaction was.

So do cross check before assigning  a goal to yourself, your team or any one in general. Expert advise recommended.

If what you are doing is not moving you towards your goals, then it’s moving you away from your goals. – Brian Tracy

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Viral July 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Excellent write up Himanshu… I really like the way you put in your detailed and insightful views so constructively.

Indeed, a thorough determination, planning and execution of goal is equally important in the success of an organistion. Equally important is that the goal should be realistic and achievable.

Audio Mixing September 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Genuinely good desgin of one’s internet site. It’s individual and compares in your posts. Don´t give up and make your very own point!

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