A woman in an orange blouse uses a fine-point marker to write on a yellow post-it note stuck on a glass partition. The yellow note is placed in a grid of other post-it notes of varying colors. Words and phrases such as "Ideas," "Explore" and "Web Design" are written on the notes.
Part of successful goal setting is tracking your goals and their progress once they've been established. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

A business operates best when it’s working towards a specified goal. Without knowing a company’s vision, employees can’t understand what they’re working towards, and ultimately, a business won’t find success.

Julie Elledge, Ph.D., founder of Mentor Agility, believes goal setting plays an important role in not only a business’s success but the well-being and engagement of its employees.

“When the process engages the heart and emphasizes employee contribution, goal-setting takes on an entirely different life with an emotional connection to their work,” Elledge said. “A story binds together the analytic brain with the emotional gates of the limbic system.”

In other words, a company needs goals to have a clear idea of what it’s working towards and why. Without this clarity, it’s difficult for a business to thrive.

[Read more: How to Create Long-Term vs. Short-Term Goals]

How can you track your goals?

Tracking goals means evaluating and reviewing company progress and ideas to ensure your business is on the right track. Elledge suggests giving employees a chance to share individual challenges they’ve run into while working towards company goals.

By sharing struggles, “a dynamic and creative dialogue ensues with each person visualizing their unique value and solution formation to achieve the overall company goals,” she said.

At the end of each year, Elledge suggests collaboratively revisiting and measuring both the company and individual’s vision, challenges and essential questions.

“This naturally flows into bringing lessons learned into a renewed vision, challenge and essential question for the upcoming year,” she told CO—.

[Read more: 10 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy in 2022]

10 goal-setting methodologies to try

There are countless methodologies you can use to set business goals. Below are 10 goal-setting methodologies worth exploring:

Visualize the ideal outcome

According to Elledge, the mind loves to solve a good mystery, so use the imagination to visualize in vivid detail what you want to accomplish in the next year. Give the narrative as much sensory detail as possible, then tell the story to your team, your customers and yourself.

When the process engages the heart and emphasizes employee contribution, goal-setting takes on an entirely different life with an emotional connection to their work.

Julie Elledge, Ph.D., founder of Mentor Agility

SMART

The SMART goal framework focuses on creating a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound — or SMART. This framework focuses your efforts and creates defined, time-based goals.

HARD

Another useful framework, HARD, stands for heartfelt, animated, required and difficult. This framework uses emotions and the senses to challenge you while connecting to the goal.

Big picture, small goals

Establish your overarching goal first, rather than getting into specifics right away. Consider your company’s mission, its future goals and why your company originally came to be. Defining your company’s purpose will help you to create smaller, more attainable goals to work towards a larger goal.

OKR

Objectives and key results (OKR) is a goal-setting strategy that can be helpful when a large group needs to work towards a shared objective. OKR goals are common among management and require choosing the goal to achieve, identifying the steps to achieve the goal and using key results to measure progress.

One-word goal

According to Indeed, by finding a single word that encapsulates your goal, you can establish a memorable and simple goal. This can motivate and guide employees towards success in a doable way.

Gap analysis

Elledge suggests writing down an essential question that defines the gap that needs to be solved.

“Clarifying the challenge and the essential question will bring the company goals into fruition,” she said.

Value-based goal setting

When your goals align with values you find important, they can be easier to accomplish. Value-based goals are a great motivator, as they incorporate what you believe in and guide you towards what you find important.

Co-creation

According to Asana, when business leaders work together to co-create, two teams join forces to share and utilize their knowledge and individual experiences. Together, they set goals and create sound and realistic business plans.

Visual goal representation

Find a picture that represents your goal and keep it within view every day. Place it in the bathroom or on a wall, or set it as a background on your computer. Having a representation of your goal in front of you each day will keep you motivated.

[Read more: How to Use the SMART Framework to Set Business Goals]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published March 23, 2022