In business the first step is to know the profit drivers. This sounds simple enough, but many businesses lack the right focus on these key areas simply because no one has taken time to identify them. As a result the goals are set on things that affect profitability, but are not profit drivers. For example, someone might say that controlling expenses is a key profit driver for their business and then they make it one of their goals. While this is true, controlling expenses is a responsibility and is just something that a good business person should do. It is not really worthy of being one of our precious goals (precious because we should work hard not to have too many to focus on). A much better goal would be to understand the areas of the business that are most profitable, and set a goal to do more of that type of business. Take a professional trade (plumber, electrician, etc) type of business for example. For a business like this, an appropriate goal would be to increase the number of service calls by x units/percentage, if that is what is most profitable to them.
The same rings true for those working within the business that set their own professional goals. Profit is not a bad word. Profit is a key measurement of success, and without it a business cannot buy assets, give raises, or provide growth opportunities, and will ultimately fail. The question is how an individual employee affects the profitability of an organization. The best and only position to be in is to know one’s worth to the organization, and to know what one does that makes the organization more profitable. Take a Project Manager in an IT Services organization for example. A project is sold and then it is typically handed over to one of these folks to handle until the project is completely finished and billed out. One of the key profit drivers for a project manager is monthly/annual billing. A more billable project manager is more profitable to the organization, and thus more valuable as a resource. The project manager should make it a goal to bill out a certain amount over a specific period of time. While there are many other important goals related to personal growth, we must make sure to have a keen focus on our individual profit contributions to the organization.
In regards to personal goals one of the most common mistakes is to set goals that make others happy rather than one’s self. After drafting personal goals, take a look at the list and for each one ask if it is based on what will make you happy, or if it is intended to make someone else happy. Rather than confuse these comments with encouragement to be selfish, realize that doing what makes us happy can be a truly unselfish act, and that these are the goals that ultimately get accomplished by the end of a year because we are passionate about them. The others seem to get moved from one year to the next on our list. For example, do not make it a goal to get involved in a charitable organization if you are just doing so because it is “what a good person should do”. Do it because it is something YOU want to do. When a goal is based on something that you are not passionate about, it will not likely be accomplished, and if it did it would leave both sides feeling unfulfilled. As another example, if you are passionate about a specific charity or just helping others in general, then this type of goal is something that makes you happy and it will naturally make a positive impact on others.
As a closing thought – always filter goals before making them final. For business/career oriented goals, ask how achieving such a goal will affect profitability. If it is a hard question to answer, either remove or move it lower in the priority ranking. For personal goals always ask “Am I doing this for me, or for someone else?”.