Too many companies and entrepreneurs underperform because of a lack of focus, or worse, because they are focused on the wrong things.
When you focus on the wrong things, it doesn’t matter how good a job you do, you’re not going to be successful.
I worked with one client who was focused on doubling his revenue, as he was not making enough money. Now, while this may seem like a good solution, the problem wasn’t the number of sales the client was making, but the profitability level of each and every sale. In fact, with every sale, the client was actually chalking up a small loss.
By doubling the number of sales, he only made things worse.
To be successful, you need to ensure that you have the right focus and that your goals are crystal clear and easily understood. When that happens, not only do you having everyone pulling in the same direction, you also have them pulling in the right direction, which will then help optimize your progress and effectiveness.
One of the key reasons people lose or have the wrong focus is that they rush in too quickly, thinking they understand what the objective is, or the solution. But I always like to remind my clients of the Einstein quote, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
That doesn’t mean that you should spend the major portion of your time thinking about things, but that you should be 100 percent sure you understand what it is you are trying to achieve before you start.
If you’re successful in achieving your goal, but it’s the wrong goal, no matter how satisfying that feeling of achievement is, it’s not going to help you.
That’s why my preferred approach to goal-setting is to use SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-boxed goals.
The more specific you can be about a goal, the better. This means not just having clarity about what the goals are, but also knowing what success looks like.
While you might think that “Being a millionaire by the age of 40” is a pretty specific goal, I would argue that not only is it vague, but that it could also cause confusion in how to achieve it; and it might mean seeing your teams doing conflicting work.
Also, does that goal mean achieving $1 million in cash, or $1 million dollars in stocks and shares or a property portfolio with a value of $1 million? Each of those definitions is valid, but each would require different actions to achieve. The more specific and clear you can be, the less misunderstand and wasted effort there will be.
Your goals also need to be measurable, the reason being quite simple: You need to be able to track your performance toward your goal, which will motivate you as you start to see progress. It will also let you know when you have been successful.
Setting goals up which are not achievable means being doomed to failure right from the start. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be bold or audacious, but that you need to have clarity that the goal is achievable and that you know how you are going to achieve it. People typically are not afraid of hard work, they are afraid of failure; so you need to be able to show them how they will be successful. When you can do that, they will be inspired.
It goes without saying that your goals need to be relevant, because if they are not, you are definitely focused on the wrong things.
Time-boxing your goals is another important factor. One client I was working with had a goal to double his revenue in three to five years. While that had a time element, it wasn’t really “time-boxed.”
The key reason to put a time box around your goals is so you can come up with a clear plan on how to achieve them. The plan to double your revenue within three years will be quite different from the plan to achieve the same goal in five years. Now, I am not suggesting that you should commit to three years, but that you should commit to a specific date. That way, you can come up with a specific plan to achieve that goal.
By setting SMART goals, you can increase your team members’ focus and ensure that they are focused on the right things, which in turn will increase your effectiveness and your results.