Your company’s goals aren’t just a to-do list of action steps, they’re a vision of where you want to be. Employee engagement can be a way to make your business exciting while unleashing the creativity of your intellectual capital.

“It can seem overwhelming if you don’t have experience setting goals, especially if you’re a business owner who is really working in business,” says Ricci M. Victorio, CSP, CPCC, managing partner at Mosaic Family Business Center. “So, it’s not a sign of weaknesses to ask for help and bring in someone who knows how to coach you, train your organization and facilitate those discussions. If it can move your business forward, energize it and make your life easier so you can enjoy being in the business, it’s really worth it.”

Smart Business spoke with Victorio about what steps to take when setting goals and following through to ensure your vision comes to fruition.

How should business owners set goals?

Once the company’s growth and revenue goals have been established, ask your team for their ideas regarding how to get there. Engage your employees in building the road map to success.

Create breakout groups to work on an annual Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats (SWOT) analysis. By graphing these and seeing correlations, employees help prioritize the two to five opportunities that will significantly help your company. With employees sufficiently motivated to take full ownership in the idea, they can then work in teams to help see the project through development and ultimately reach the goal, which is done in addition to the day-to-day duties.

How can you tell employees aren’t engaged?

There will be complacency and all kinds of reasons, excuses and blame for why employees can’t accomplish the goals set before them. They sit around waiting to be told what to do. There’s a sense of isolation and feeling that nobody is paying attention. You’ll see flat production and even downward trends, as well as higher absentee rates.

Lead employees, rather than dictate assignments, and then get out of their way. A leader removes obstacles so the team can achieve the goal. By giving employees authority, you show respect for their intelligence and ability to solve problems. Successful organizations recognize intellectual capital goes beyond the executive circle. If all employees engage in the company’s vision, regardless of their level or position within the organization, then leadership trickles down so everyone contributes to furthering the company’s goals, which are their goals, too. Actively engaged employees do more than you would have asked and hold themselves accountable to goals they helped set.

In addition to treating employees with respect, acknowledge what’s being done right. Recognize that if there’s failure, it’s more the manager’s failure than the employee’s.

Once you’ve set goals, what’s the key to keeping on track throughout the year?

At minimum, hold quarterly or monthly check-ins that provide opportunities to make course corrections. With the business plan and goals, you can create an action spreadsheet to see progress and identify what’s stopping forward movement. The more intimate the check-ins, the more effective they’ll be.

Also, communicate back to employees to keep them engaged. Some companies have adopted a report card with updates on strategic projects. The strategic projects that change the way you do business are exciting, creative and generate a lot of energy.

How can you learn how to lead this way?

There are books and successful examples, and you can work with a coach who knows the process, can motivate people and teach managers how to lead meetings. It’s hard to facilitate your own meeting and take an objective, honest look at how you’re doing.

Setting and achieving goals doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you put these practices in place and overcome the learning curve, life will be easier. You won’t have to spend all your time feeling like you are grasping at loose ends — and you’ll begin to see the grand design weaving together into a cohesive and beautiful creation.

Ricci M. Victorio, CSP, CPCC, is managing partner at Mosaic Family Business Center. Reach her at (415) 788-1952 or ricci@mosaicfbc.com.

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Published in National