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3 Goal Setting Approaches that Could Help Your Business

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

The ability to set effective goals is critical for any business, unit, or project. If you want to grow then you must set some goals, but more importantly, is how you set those goals. Goals can be SMART, HARD, or WOOP, we will cover all these acronyms in other posts, but for now, let's look at 3 approaches to goal setting that could help your business.

The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”– Michelangelo

Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels courtesy pixabay

#1 - Top-Down Approach

As the name suggests this approach follows the process where the most senior people within the organization set the operational goals and assign them to the units and departments within the organization for execution. This activity is usually carried out by the management team or the senior executives.

Some of the advantages of this approach are that the goals will most likely align better with the corporate strategy, and the vision and mission of the organization. The goals will also be more ambitious, no loafing around and no slacking, the "oga's at the top" (big bosses) are watching in 3 -D.

The approach may appear to be a bit authoritarian but this may depend largely on the particular situation or nature of the organization.

This approach is best adopted under the following circumstances;

  • There are very tight deadlines to meet and collective agreement would be time-consuming

  • Where you have team members that need closer supervision to effectively do their jobs or new team members who have just joined and don't yet understand what the corporate goals and objectives are.

The downside with this approach is that the goals may not be flexible, team members may not take ownership, and members may feel that the goals are too ambitious. All this however can be taken care of by adopting the second method.

#2 - Bottom-Up Approach

As the name suggests, this is the direct opposite of the top-down approach. Here the goals are set by the middle/lower levels within the team or organization and are ratified by senior management for implementation. You would think that this is a better and more inclusive approach but it also comes with its challenges.

While it addresses the challenges of the top-down approach, this method presents other challenges such as ensuring that goals set from the bottom align with the corporate vision and ensuring that the goals set are not just within the team's comfort zone but are sufficiently ambitious.

This approach is best suited for teams where individuals have a full understanding and appreciation of the corporate strategy, understand the role they play, and can effectively determine their own work.

#3 - Interactive Approach

As the name suggests this approach is a collaboration between all stakeholders across the hierarchies within the organization. The drivers, ie top management set the tone while all other stakeholders determine the means. This method ensures that the goals are sufficiently ambitious but flexible and achievable. Most of all the engagement nature of this method ensures everyone is carried along creating a feeling of ownership.

The downside is that it can be quite time-consuming because it may be difficult to reach a consensus, and if care is not taken, it could end up being a bottom-up approach and difficult to manage.

Let's Tie it All Together

Whatever method you adopt remember it's about buy-in. Get all stakeholders to buy into the method and take ownership of the goals produced, regardless of whichever method was adopted. If all stakeholders take ownership of the goals you are sure that they will give it their best shot and that is a great way to ensure success.

Written by Lady Shayo Imologome Business Growth Strategist, Management Consultant, and Keynote Speaker

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