Setting Realistic Goals
When I was managing large teams in a corporate environment I remember 2 rather painful processes that we went through. First is the budgeting process, which began in August and went painfully through January. Second was the staff review process, which began in January and typically was concluded by end of February. In both cases, one key point was to set goals for the coming year.
For the last 30+ years of my career, the guiding principle in setting any sort of goal has been the SMART principle. For anyone who has not heard of this (I can’t imagine where you must have been all these years!!), each goal must meet 5 basic criteria. They must be:
A hotel’s budget goals might include, for example, something like this:
We will grow ADR by $7 in quarters 3 & 4 over last year by aggressively targeting industries scheduled to participate at conferences booked in the new convention centre.
It never ceases to amaze me that some companies continue to issue goal directives without regard to these principles, then penalize employees who do not meet them.
Even after we do exhaustive market studies, comp set analyses, consider city-wide event calendars, review air and train loads into the market, calculate brand marketing strategy impact, carefully forecast occupancy and make appropriate computations to determine an Achievable goal… we sit at a budget meeting and are told that HQ expects X% occupancy with an ADR of $Y next year. Often it is based on some pre-calculated growth formula concocted by HQ executives to meet Wall Street expectations, rather than careful calculations based on realities on the ground.
I used to walk away thinking – why did we just spend the last few months agonizing over all this data? What’s the point of preparing a realistic budget if it doesn’t matter? There is nothing wrong with being aggressive and targeting ever higher achievements. But reality does have to play a part! Instead, we often ended up preparing a separate HQ budget by backing into the final annual numbers they were looking for.
So much for the SMART principles… Achievable and Relevant go out the window.
I got a good laugh at a recent post of a fictional resignation letter. (click here to read it) It sounded to me like many conversations I have heard over the years about the differences between expectations and realities.
That’s not to say there aren’t unrealistic opinions of your own performance (see the fictional CEO’s response here).
Needless to say, there are 3 sides to every story – those of the 2 persons involved and the truth, which is inevitably in the middle somewhere…
Many companies are coming out of the hibernation of the past few years of economic stagnation. Many have dusted off projects shelved years ago. The HER team has been getting involved in numerous projects which need to be re-scoped as the landscape has changed since 2009 when they were originally concieved. We continue to try to impress on our clients the importance of applying the SMART principle in making their decisions and determining how to proceed and what to expect.
Do the research first, then set your goals accordingly.
We invite our readers to share what has worked for you…