• CFOsg Admin

Have You Set Goals That Are Pointless?


Devon was quite fed up with his IT staff. His company was trying to expand overseas, and as part of that plan, he wanted his IT staff to come up with a new application for overseas clients to enjoy access to the existing system. However, the IT staff complained that he was “asking for the impossible”, and kept trying to get him to back down. Knowing they were just being lazy and trying to cheat the company of their salary, Devon insisted that they had to submit a report every week on what they managed to accomplish that week using the S.M.A.R.T. framework, and failure to meet those goals would lead to lowered bonuses. After all, Devon reasoned, the really influential leaders like Steve Jobs refused to accept “impossible” as a standard, so why should he?


In a world where leadership BS abounds in leadership training, one particular methodology tends to get thrown around very frequently. The S.M.A.R.T. (Specific / Measurable / Attainable / Realistic / Timely) goals method is one that is touted to be incredibly productive for companies to achieve big things, by breaking tasks up into concrete steps, and then using the framework to set milestones. However, as Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson point out in their book, Why Managing Sucks - And How To Fix It, just because a goal is aligned to the S.M.A.R.T. framework doesn’t mean it will be effective; in fact, it could actually end up being counterproductive!


What Ressler and Thompson point out is that it’s all well and good to set goals, but goals first require you to focus on “Why is this important?” It also requires you to look into all aspects of a situation before starting to set goals. In Devon’s case, it would have been far more productive to listen to WHY his IT staff were unanimous in saying what he was asking for was not possible before requiring them to decide WHAT they needed to achieve. The authors likened it to packing for a vacation, but without first making sure whether you were going to a warm or cold climate; if you packed wrongly, it would lead to a lot of problems down the road, even though your goals were met in the moment!


In Devon’s case, as the weeks went by, he noticed that the IT personale were achieving more and more goals, but strangely, the application never seemed any closer to completion. In fact, he was now having to face turnover as old IT staff started to leave at alarming rates, and new prospective staff expressed disinterest in staying. What his IT department refused to tell him anymore was that what he was asking for was not compatible with their system without having to resort to expensive external solutions given the short timeline, and they were now just biding their time to get their bonuses, or just quitting outright for more reasonable pastures.


When it comes to your financial management, have you set any goals which may not be helping your company to grow? If you are not sure, drop us an email at info@cfosg.sg and we can schedule an appointment to help you align your goals to your vision.


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