Different flavours of ice cream in store display after owner learns how to set business goals
Streamlining your business

How to set new goals to survive COVID-19

Many businesses are having to pivot their goals for the first time due to the changes brought on
by the pandemic. 

What used to be an annual process has now left business owners scrambling to adjust their goals towards an uncertain future. While there's a lot of angst tied to this, there's also a lot of opportunities. Setting goals will not only bring you comfort but can also bring about a sense of accomplishment and set the tone for the future.

The importance of goals during a crisis 

Goal setting helps inform your people of what is expected of them and benefits employees through improving their motivation, satisfaction and determination. Goal setting also demonstrates value for an organisation with improved productivity and performance. 

Amid a crisis, business owners are likely managing competing priorities. While many things are put on hold, reiterating the business vision and the goals to help meet that vision is now more critical than ever. 

Goal setting has shown to increase employee engagement in the face of obstacles. In addition to changing priorities, your business is also likely dealing with significant shifts in how you operate, such as moving an entire workforce to a remote one. Virtual teams will face unique challenges with communication and collaboration. When leaders focus on the things you can accomplish together, it helps remove the barriers of working remotely. 

When you clearly communicate goals and unite your team efforts, it gives people a degree of certainty and a sense of clarity. Goal setting simply enables alignment and a mutual understanding of what teams can do together to be successful, especially during these challenging times.

Considerations when adjusting goals

It goes without saying that the goals initially set by your business have to be adjusted. When it comes to updating the overall business goals, questions to think about are: 

  • What makes sense to action right now? 
  • What goals or milestones are not attainable now? 
  • What critical goal should be carried forward? 
  • What should we abandon?
  • What can we adjust?

It's likely you'll need to update your business strategy and communicate this to your employees.

Once you're clear about the overall business goals, your other business support functions such as operations, marketing, HR will need updating too.

Don't forget employee goals

While we don't know how long the pandemic will be around for, we know it will pass one day. To empower your people, you should have your employees involved in setting their own goals and aligning them with the business initiatives. By allowing your people to set their own goals rather than their manager, it leads to higher motivation levels and keeps them accountable.

It's recommended that employees (should they feel comfortable), seek feedback from their peers on their updated goals to see if it aligns with the team. Importantly, employees should ask themselves – do these goals align with my career and development goals?

Have check-ins more often

As the world changes at a rapid pace, it's not enough to set goals once a year and just leave it. Goal setting should be flexible and an ongoing process. The company, Adobe, has a culture of having frequent goal-setting conversations between managers and their team members. Sometimes as often as every month. Adobe's check-in process is a bit like making pit stops in car racing. 

The 'pit stops' allow Adobe employees to receive feedback and make any adjustments on an ongoing basis. This allows for continuous improvement and an opportunity to reset goals to ensure alignment with the business. 

Catherine Ngo

Senior Editor and Content Writer, My Business

Catherine is passionate about unravelling the latest news and insights to help entrepreneurs, small business owners and employers.

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