7 Expensive Goal Setting Mistakes Teams Make That Are Really Easy To Fix

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Goal Setting Mistakes

Goals are not strategically aligned

Most executive teams, let alone low level managers and employees, can not articulate a company’s strategy. This means that goals, whether they are SMART goals or OKRs, may not align with strategy. And if goals are not aligned with strategy then there’s a good change your strategy might not be delivered.

The solution is to take your strategy out of slides and put it in a place where strategy can live, breathe and have a pulse. Enterprise OKR solutions like ZOKRI are designed to share Strategy and Company goals. Teams are then able to align their goals in an aligned, specific and measurable way using OKRs.

Setting goals in a silo

Goals are often handed down to teams with low to no participation happening on which goals and measurements matter most. You benefit from the knowledge and experience on the ground, improve goal engagement, and unlock talent from the bottom up when goal setting is a top-down and bottom-up exercise.

By platforming your chosen goal setting methodology and cycles on OKR tools like ZOKRI, you can invite teams to propose aligned goals, ensure they are considered and created in a best-practice way, and the right people have been consulted with as part of the creation and sign-off process.

Lacking ambition and low-balling goals

Something special happens when teams feel safe enough to create hard to achieve goals. You unlock new ways of thinking, innovation and increased levels of effort and focus. This creates a goal paradox. 100% achievement is not the only definition of success. Perhaps 62% would be amazing.
How do you make it safe to create hard to achieve goals? You start with being clear about the level of difficulty. OKRs especially have the concept of OKR grading built in for that reason.

The second part of the solution is to ensure there is an OKR retrospective at the end of a quarter. This is where you have an opportunity to discuss and retrospectively grade your achievement and share learnings. If you know what 62% can be remembered as ‘An Amazing Achievement’ you’re more likely to set hard targets.

Set and then forgotten goals

Goals that are not frequently updated and discussed are less likely to be achieved. The day-to-day takes over and the opportunity gets lost.

The solution is to systematically get check-ins to happen and schedule short team meetings to discuss any issues being faced and priorities for the week ahead. Needless to say, this is where OKR software like ZOKRI comes into its own.

Goals are not discussed alongside KPIs

How do you know if a company or team is healthy? You look at KPIs. How do you know if your strategy is being delivered? You look at OKR progress. There is an overlap and one does not replace the other.

What happens when you don’t discuss goal progress and delivery alongside KPIs? There are a number of things: The first is that teams become KPI unaware and might not catch a KPI that’s tracking the wrong way. The second is you see more goals created as they are being used as a proxy for KPIs.

Goals that are created that are outputs not outcomes

It is common to see goals created to describe work. For example, to launch a feature or a campaign, or complete a project.

Of course completing work is great but it does not have a measurable outcome. Is the feature launch going to increase product usage or is the campaign going to create more leads?

Helping teams question why they are doing the work they are doing and what the expected outcomes is a revealing process. It’s typical to find teams stop doing work when they work out that the work they are doing is not the most effective way to drive the outcomes that really do matter.

OKRs as a framework is heavily biased towards creating outcome based goals. Our OKR software allows teams to then align work with these goals.

Teams create way too many goals

Every Objective you create and every Key Result you pair with it requires focus. The more goals you have the more you dilute that focus. What usually follows a wide range of goals are not making an acceptable level of progress.

The solution is to think about and commit to fewer game-changing goals. If that can be one per team with two or three Key Results that is great. You can always start a new goal if that one is achieved quickly.


If you would like to see how ZOKRI allows you to platform best-practice goal setting, book a demo. We’d like to show you what great goal setting looks like.