Why chasing short-term targets hinders long-term performance

It is important to have goals to strive for in your business. Objectives and KPIs can act as a strong motivator and can help you and your workers stay on track. Having the goal of reaching a certain sale goal each month can help motivate workers to work hard. Not only should you set useful goals for your company, you should also set practical and useful short-term and long-term goals.

  • Short-term goals target milestone that can be reached within the next few days, weeks, or month. For some businesses even year-end goals can be considered short-term goals.
  • Long-term goals are ones that you will achieve later on and take longer to reach. Some long-term goals may be set for two, five, or ten years into the future.

Long-term goals can be your most meaningful, influential, and important goals. These help drive your business into the future and gives you goals to strive for that will carry you and your business into the future. Looking at short term goals as the most important can cause you to become every short-sighted. You may hit the short term goal for the month in sales but be missing the bigger picture and fail to see the problem looming on the horizon at the end of the year. To help connect short and long-term goals you can create what is known in the business market as enabling goals.

An enabling goal is a specially formulated shorter-term goal. It is written with the explicit purpose of helping you and you business achieve a long-term goal. Enabling goals are often compared to stepping stones that help measure progress towards longer-term goals. For examples, long term goal for your company may be to increase customers from a certain area or demographics within the next three years. You can create enabling goals to keep yourself on track in the short-term. These may be to hit certain sales and pricing goals, getting new products on the market, or to open new branches. Each enabling goal helps move the company closer to its long-term goals.

Without these goals in place, the focus becomes too set on the here and now. Business cannot be run with blinders on that limit the view to only the present and immediate future. All plans, goals, and milestones should be developed to move the company and employees to arrive at the final long-term goals. In addition to setting long-term and short-term goals, and to go along with your enabling goals, you also need to analyze your goals and analyze them often. Goals do not occur overnight nor do they operate apart from the rest of the business world. You have many different goals for your personal life, your business, and your employees. The trick is to figure out how to set priorities, adjust to meet the ebb and flow of the business world, and overcome obstacles and road blocks while still reaching your different goals.

To help you analyze your goals, it is important to ask yourself three questions: Do I have goals set up for my company that are in conflict with each other? Will pursuing one goal make it difficult or even impossible to reach another one? Am I totally committed to my goals?

If your company has the long-term goal to be the most successful entertainment magazine in the reading area, but you also have the goal of keeping employee pay costs to a minimum these ideas are in conflict with each other. If you pursue the goal of being the best in the industry, you will have a very hard time staying on budget for your employees. Better pay and better treatment usually means better work so these two business goals are working against each other. You need to be willing to commit to what is best for the company in order to reach those long-term goals. If that means paying employees more and offering a better work environment or better equipment then that is what is necessary to make your goals work.

Short-term goals are good for the here and now and act as a sort of instant gratification. It is long-term goals that will really drive your business and your employees. Implementing some enabling goals can help connect the short and long-term goals and help you stay on track and keep heading in the right direction with your business.

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