The inspirational ‘from rags to riches’ story of the brilliant business mind that was William Clement Stone, thrived on motivation, self-help and the notion that to believe is to achieve. His many inspirational quotes have shaped attitudes for decades. He always encouraged a positive mindset and taking action when striving for success. One of his most famous lines says it all, in terms of efforts always being worthy of your time:
Timely targets are the fifth and final player in our S.M.A.R.T. goal extravaganza. All the specific, measurable, attainable and realistic targets in the world, are rendered vague or potentially useless when open-ended and with infinite scope. Right from childhood, limits and time constraints have helped us to achieve finality of a task – youngsters given ten minutes to get ready, half an hour to tidy up or an hour of screen-time, are subconsciously learning the value of time and success criteria.
Similarly, a cooking recipe left to roast for two hours instead of one, would be a smouldering mess; and a ten-year university programme may not be as appealing to students as a three-year option. You’re also unlikely to board a plane without having any idea of the duration of the journey to your final destination. Time plays an important role in everything we do – use it wisely.
"How can time-bound goals boost your business?"
In recent weeks, we have discussed the invaluable importance of fine-tuning KPI’s to fit individual needs, whilst ensuring a healthy balance of challenge and pressure. Monthly goals are of course timely in nature, but actually looking at their achievability in context, is far more rewarding. For example, a target of ten sales per month needs to mean something:
‘Is that a standard expectation or a number pulled at random?’
‘Is it humanly possible to bag ten sales that given month?’
‘Are there any bank holidays?’
‘What if you’re off sick?’
If such a figure is attainable and reasonable, then perhaps it compares to historic records and could help to shape future predictions. Time-bound opportunities also avoid monotony and keep us on our toes; a measurable parameter which can be shortened or extended accordingly.
"Is it time to rewrite the narrative?"
From customer service to sales, from marketing to management or indeed at any level of a company hierarchy, time is always of the essence. Trial periods, periodic reviews or appraisals and of course the aforementioned target-setting strategies, all come and go in a timely fashion. In order to make those goals truly SMART, then a focus on time management and the ability to adapt and move on when something doesn’t work out on time, could be extremely liberating. Giving meaning to time expectations makes success tangible – a goal is only realistic if achievable within the given time frame.
A new narrative could include personalised goal-setting with true conceptual analysis. For example, rather than telling customer sales personnel to be friendlier, why not try:
"Let’s aim for a 50% increase in positive feedback over the next quarter?"
We could even resonate amongst sales reps, the importance to gain a 10% increase in productivity, based on last year’s annual review, rather than barking empty orders of:
‘Increase your sales results!’
"How could your company benefit from better time management?"
You may feel that there are never enough hours in the day, but thanks to the SMART goal structure and convenient performance management tools available, time burdens can most certainly be taken off your hands. Not only can your staff endeavour to achieve performance-centric targets, but their sense of wellbeing and value is protected as they work towards attainable heights against a realistic clock. Time can always be better spent, and in terms of boosting productivity, real-time data is the way forward.
Aim for manageable, digestible chunks of time to focus on each specific goal or need. Embrace the possibility to bring deadlines closer when on track to beat the clock, but don’t be afraid to extend limits when the situation calls for ‘extra time.’ Admitting the need for guidance, support or a rain check on delivery dates do not necessarily reflect inability, negligence or laziness, but may be the vital component to triumph and finish something without a rush or cutting corners. On the other hand, performance trackers may also highlight those whose goals are out of reach; time extensions won’t always be the answer, but they’re a great place to start.
Targets, projects and even everyday tasks all have a finish line – being SMART about how to run the race using automated tools and modernistic apps help you to go the extra mile. Time well spent is never wasted – plans may take a turn, but you won’t hit the moon or stars, if you don’t put the time in.
Clement Stone also said: ‘Success is achieved and maintained by those who try and keep trying.’ Hold that thought – it’ll always deserve its place in time.
Next week’s blog will explore success criteria and pyramids of success. Be sure to tune in!