Be Accountable: A Guide to Completing (Achievable) Business Goals

What does it mean to be accountable? According to Webster’s, “accountable” means, “required to explain actions or decisions to someone,” or “required to be responsible for something.”

In business, being accountable for the completion of tasks and goals—also known as the Accountability Factor—motivates us to succeed because the responsibility is ultimately on us. Accountability is sharing your goals with someone you know who will keep your feet to the fire.

So how can you take responsibility and make sure that you achieve your business goals this year? In a Harvard business study conducted years ago, a survey of a class showed that 70 percent of students had no goals, 27 percent had verbal goals while just 3 percent had verbal and written goals. Ten years later, when they interviewed those same folks, the 27 percent that verbalized their goals earned twice as much as the 70 percent who didn’t while the 3 percent that wrote and verbalized theirs earned ten times more than both groups combined.

The lesson to pull from this study is to write down your goals. By writing and verbalizing them, you can see them to fruition in what we call the “90-Day Plan.”

For you and your employees, take the time to write down your goals for your business to be completed in the next 90 days. A good starting point would be now because it’s the new year. Then, each week, discuss your goals, any obstacles and possible methods to achieve them. By writing down and verbalizing goals, you’re introducing the previously-mentioned Accountability Factor. That is, you’re assuming responsibility for that set of goals and understand that you will be held accountable for their completion. The Accountability Factor teaches employees about time management, responsibility and teamwork among other important traits.

This plan, though not highly complex or sophisticated, keeps businesses on target and helps them fulfill their goals.

Setting goals is a great way to measure growth and improvement. However, many business owners make the mistake of setting the wrong types of goals. For example, expecting to triple productivity in the first quarter or simply wanting to, “grow your business” are unrealistic, vague and an overall waste of time. Instead, develop SMART goals that you and your business will accomplish this year. The keywords being, “will accomplish.”

So what are SMART goals? The first known use of this mnemonic acronym occurred in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George Doran and gained popularity in the business world because of its easy-to-remember objectives. The SMART goals are as follows:

SPECIFIC: Goals should be simplistic and specific, designed exclusively for your company. If you can quantify your goals, do it because that allows you to make comparisons with the previous year’s numbers.

Vague Goal: Website should be updated every month.

Specific Goal: On the second Monday of every month, gather updates and materials from all departments to add to web pages. When new content is uploaded, edit and remove old content. Fresh content draws attention and improves overall traffic.

MEASURABLE: The best way to obtain tangible evidence for your company is to set measurable goals. “Growth” and “production” and “revenue” are important terms but useless if they can’t be measured. Within your annual goals, you should set measurable, short-term goals to use as benchmarks for success.

Immeasurable Goal: Let’s become more active on social media this year.

Measurable Goal:  Retain 100 followers/month this by improving “tweet frequency” and twitter engagement, and online brand building.

ACHIEVABLE: Setting achievable goals doesn’t mean setting easy goals. Challenge your employees by setting goals that require hard work and focus but ones that can be realized and will ultimately contribute to the overall success of your company. Remember that achieving goals motivates and energizes employees to excel.

Unachievable Goal: Increase growth by 50 percent this year.

Achievable Goal: Assess monthly growth and set targets on a weekly or monthly basis.

RESULTS-FOCUSED: Don’t worry so much about the process or the activities related to the goal as to the actual result of the goal. Sometimes to move forward, you must take a step (or two) backwards. That’s okay, just keep the end goal in mind as your company moves forward.

Abstract Goal: Assign tasks to team in order to complete project by the end of the quarter.

Results-Focused Goal: Assign a team leader to prioritize tasks to ensure they are being fulfilled in a timely manner.

TIME-BOUND: Give your goals a completion date. This creates a sense of urgency and stresses the importance of time management. Create a realistic timeline, whether it be three days or three months. Then work backwards from the completion date as a way to stay focused on your game plan. Don’t let deadlines slip by, especially on projects that are crucial to your company’s wellness.

Open-Ended Goal: Update office computer systems and software.

Time-Bound Goal: Replace office equipment by the end of the quarter. Contact software reps to schedule software training for first Tuesday of next month.

This year, instead of making unlikely resolutions that may or may not help your business, make SMART goals, attainable benchmarks that will enhance growth and development. By following the 90-Day Plan of writing down goals, you become accountable for the outcome, which should motivate you to achieve them! To help, make sure that you keep others informed of your goals so that they can hold your feet to the fire.  Let 2015 be a year of success for you.

Need help mapping your business goals this year? Let Jeff Miller Consulting Alliance assist. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.