How To Set Short-Term Goals That Deliver Long-Term Results
Every new year brings the opportunity to realign on long-term business goals. But short-term goals are where teams perform their best work.
Think about it this way: When achieved consistently, strategic and impactful short-term goals move the needle towards the completion of long-term goals. It sounds logical, yet without being intentional about regularly setting short-term goals and checking in on them, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and end up working for the sake of working.
“If you never set a goal, then you can never reach it. Many workers, teams and managers are going through their day focused on fighting fires, instead of being strategic and focusing on reaching goals,” says Bridget Chebo, Director of Customer Success at We Are Working, a remote staffing and management company. Chebo has been building and leading remote and hybrid teams for 10 years, so she knows a thing or two about goal-setting in our day and age.
Below she shares her best insights on setting short-term goals that will deliver long-term results.
Short vs. long-term goals
According to Chebo, short-term goals offer three key benefits: They keep teams focused on the same priority, they foster a greater sense of community in the team and promote teamwork, and they allow a chance for celebration and recognition when the goal is met.
If you find it hard to differentiate what consists of a good short-term goal and what should be considered a long-term one, keep in mind the following differences.
“Long-term goals can be more ambitious, while short-term goals should be very realistic. Long-term goals obviously have longer time frames, so not all employees will still be around when the long-term goal is reached,” she says. In other words, if you’re not sure whether your intern who is with you for three months will see the goal’s completion, it might be too ambitious or too long-term.
Ready to set short-term goals with your team? These four important factors will ensure success.
How to pick short-term goals
Your short-term goals should be milestones along the way to your long-term ones. Consider higher-level yearly and quarterly goals. What kind of key results would get you closer to achieving those bigger goals? And keep in mind your strengths and resources as a team. What would be your team’s most impactful contribution towards the achievement of those goals?
Once you’ve identified important priorities, set S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound). “This is a tried-and-true method of setting goals that increases the likelihood of success,” says Chebo. “Short-term goals should be able to be measured in 30 days or less so the entire team can see the results.”
Only set a couple of short-term goals
When setting short-term goals, only set your sights on a couple of targets. “ If there are too many goals to focus on, you will dilute your efforts,” adds Chebo. And you might stress your team out. “Think of your ‘North Star’ metric, and focus your short-term goals on efforts that drive improvement to it.”
Having to choose one or two short-term goals forces you to focus and prioritize, and that’s exactly how you’ll reap one of the biggest benefits of shorter-term goal-setting.
Avoid a top-down approach
Your goal-setting process also needs to be collaborative. The beauty of it is since you’re setting smaller goals as a team, it’s way easier to co-create your goals and truly feel like you’re making them your own, a feeling you won’t necessarily get when discussing company-wide targets.
“Avoid a top-down approach where the manager is telling the team what the goals are. Be collaborative, ask the team what they think we should focus on. Fail to do this at your peril, as your team may not be invested in the goals or understand why or how they should work towards them,” explains Chebo.
Get your team invested
On that note, “What’s in it for me?” is a question you should answer and define with each team member when setting a short-term goal. Aligning individual goals with larger team initiatives is key for success, according to Chebo: “Without this important step, employees can be left wondering why they should care.”
For example, if one of your team members wants to develop specific competencies, working on some aspects of the goal might get them excited and motivated to contribute.
Good examples of short term goals
1. Onboard team members in all tech tools
Without consistent communication it’s challenging to get everyone on the same page. That’s why it is so important for managers to onboard new members in all tech tools within the first few days on the job. Team players can take the necessary steps to learn softwares quickly.
Pro-tip: If your company is using Hive, take advantage of Hive University to learn the basics and Hive Essentials through online courses, tutorials and webinars.
2. Get certified in a new business skill
Professional development courses can help improve your business skills within a few weeks or months. Looking to be a better project manager and get a PMP certification? Here’s a round-up of the best paid and free online project management courses. These classes can lead to certifications that can level you up in the position you’re in or open doors to better opportunities. Your company may even offer a stipend to cover the costs of these courses, so make sure you take advantage!
3. Improve your team’s connection
Organizing regularly scheduled meetups, IRL or virtually is a great way to boost morale within your team. Schedule a monthly happy hour with your team, and try different approaches to create engagement among team players. Take advantage of chat channels to create a check-in routine, and explore virtual team-building opportunities if your team is distributed across different locations.
4. Test new engagement methods
Perhaps your engagement growth has hit a plateau and you need some refreshing ideas to connect with your audience. Consider conducting A/B testing for your newsletter titles, increasing usage of videos on your social channels or changing a call to action button on your website. Whatever tests you conduct make sure to evaluate their performance over a set period, to allow timely iteration.
5. Establish a quarterly performance review
Determining the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is one of the best ways to evaluate’s team’s performance in a short period of time. A quarterly review offers the opportunity for frequent analysis and iterations. By implementing a quarterly performance review, organizations can continuously invest in employees’ professional development, optimize their processes and drive better results over time.
Use Hive to reach your short-term goals
Are you ready to start setting and tracking goals for your team? You’re in luck — Hive’s newest (and most exciting) feature is Goals. Everyone wants to know how they’re progressing as an individual, as well as how they are moving their organization forward. With Goals, you can set various goals, visualize progress, and keep everyone aligned in one centralized dashboard. You can also:
- Create one, ten, twenty, or more goals for your team, so everyone understands what they’re contributing to.
- Centralize and automate your goal tracking and reporting.
- Pull data from other systems into Hive to streamline operations and reporting.
- Share your goal or goals, assign the goal to relevant teammates, track activity, and give yourselves a deadline.
- Understand how your team and organization are pacing towards an individual goal or a set of goals.
- Color-coded designations allow an easy understanding of “on-track” items.
- When it’s time to review progress, accomplishments, and achievements, easily export all relevant information.
Want to get started? Start your free trial of Hive Goals today!