We’ll bet your goals have changed in the past six months…

There are three basic types of management short- or long-term goals: for growth, efficiency or quality. Are your goals ensuring your organization’s continuity? Do they support your customers? Are they stimulating the innovation and change you’ll need to compete in the new world?

Definition of a goal: “A goal describes a meaningful change in a certain context and time.”

Practice Summary

The semantics about “goals” is a hot mess:

  • Forget about “strategic goals,” “objectives,” “operational goals.” Just have long- and short-term goals
  • Long-term goals are for 3 or 5 years and don’t have to have numbers. Collectively they’re “vision”
  • Short-term goals are for 1 year. They need to include a metric
  • Don’t confuse goals with projects. “My goal is to complete the project” is an evasion
  • Don’t have more than 6 long-term and 18 short-term goals. Too many goals is like having no goals.
  • See The Center’s Goal Tree for a 1-page plan

Types of goals

  • Goals are for the organization or its departments or functions (marketing, sales, operations, etc.)
  • Types of goals: money, quality, customer service, efficiency, growth or social benefit


  • Show everyone that they depend on everyone else to meet their goals
  • Be sure they’re easy to measure
  • The discussion about goals can be more important than the goals themselves
  • Goals are about changing behavior: get everyone ready for some discomfort
  • Remember: focus is everything
  • Stick to your goals! Don’t change them unless you absolutely have to.

Key Metrics: Good management goals have two numbers and a date: e.g., “Increase market share in Europe from 5% to 10% by December 2021.”

3 Good Questions

  1. How can we keep our goals connected and in balance?
  2. When is a goal really just an aspiration?
  3. Are our biggest goals inspiring and memorable

Setting goals is really hard, but it’s the manager’s most important job. Setting goals means committing to change, so get ready for resistance. Be sure you can provide the resources, manage the risks and deal with the problems. Be ready to say over and over again why the fulfilling the goals will let everyone feel great pride in having worked together to accomplish something great!

Relevant Terms

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