How to Set Goals for a High Performance Culture

Set Goals for a High Performance Culture so expectations are clear

How You Set Goals for a High Performance Culture Matters
Some leaders think they must set goals for a high performance culture that are impossible (or almost impossible) to reach in order to motivate their teams to provide maximum effort and peak performance.  Other leaders believe success metrics must be set low enough so that people can consistently exceed expectations without setting themselves up to fail.

We believe that both sets of leaders are wrong.

High Performance Goals Must be “Just Right”
To set goals for a high performance culture, they must be “just right.”  Our high performance culture research combined with twenty-plus years of helping clients boost their performance tells us that overly ambitious goals discourage rather than encourage greater effort. Ultra-stretch goals may work for some super-charged salespeople but, in the final analysis, they are counter-productive. The same is true when the bar is set too low.

Impossible to Reach Goals
Here is what happens step-by-step when you regularly set goals that are not achievable.

  • First, when the targets are not reached, excuses are made.
  • Whatever the reason for failure—not enough resources, not enough time, stiff competition—there is a lack of accountability where it belongs…on the shoulders of the leaders who set them, the team that agreed to them (or maybe did not disagree strongly enough) and the team that failed to reach them.
  • Second, consistently missing targets sets up a situation where failure becomes the norm.
  • Either the goals are not thoughtfully chosen or the team does not do what it commits to doing. The result is a low performing team where there is no accountability and failure is not simply accepted…it is expected.

Sandbagged Goals
When goals are set too low, our experience is that performance is almost always “left on the table.”  Sure, some may surpass their targets and exceed expectations, but they rarely perform at their peak.  As stated by Michelangelo: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

How can you, instead, build a high performance culture where achievement, not failure, becomes the standard? When you set goals for a high performance culture, you need to be:

1. Clear
Both too high and too fuzzy goals are unattainable. Goals should be crystal clear, very specific and easily measured. Only then can you monitor and track progress…both activities are absolutely critical to holding your team accountable and to adjusting the numbers, as needed, to allow for unforeseen changing conditions.

2. Realistic
Somewhere between overly easy and overly difficult goals are the reasonable, so-called stretch goals that are challenging and inspiring but also, with extra effort, realistically attainable. You want to encourage greater effort from your team by asking them to “stretch” a little further each goal setting period with fair, accurate, and relevant goals that are “just within reach” if people perform at their peak.

3. Choosy
Select goals that, once achieved, will have a real business impact. It is important to choose just a few goals with the highest priority. By focusing workforce efforts on the goals that are most effectively aligned with your strategy, you are setting your team up to succeed.

4. Prepared
Don’t let your targets be missed due to lack of resources. Make sure you have the money, the time, the raw materials and the talent to make your numbers. Objectives can’t be met by will and commitment alone.

The Bottom Line
We know that workplace culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies.  And we believe it is a leader’s job to create the circumstances to consistently get the most out of their people in a way that is consistent with the organization’s core values, behaviors and strategies.

If we push too much (or even too little), we may not meet our goals.  The right balance, a high performance culture, is an environment that stimulates its population to improve their performance. Clearly define and choose goals that will set your team on the performance path to success.

To learn more about the ingredients required to have healthy performance pressure, download Performance Pressure: How Much Should a Leader Push

Comments are closed.

I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.

Duane Schroeder
Human Resource Manager

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

Rae Phillips
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.

Susan Anderson
Workforce Planning Bureau

We recently contacted LSA Global to assist us with a unique training request. We gave LSA a very short deadline and LSA custom designed a training program to meet our exact requirements within the limited time allotted to them. We found their facilitator to be well versed in the subject matter and very credible; the design provided practical and valuable information to our team of managers. I highly recommend LSA Global, particularly in the area of management training.

Julaine K. Souza
Senior Vice President

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

LSA has been a tremendous asset to my portfolio, both at my current company and my past company. As an HR leader, I am always looking for ways to find external resources that can provide a solution to our management training needs. LSA does that for me. Their solutions are presented in a much more leadership-oriented manner so as to be crisp, business relevant, and easy to apply right back on the job. I will continue to augment our programs using LSA solutions.

Ken Boehm
VP of Human Resources

PalmSource has found our relationship with LSA extremely beneficial. We worked closely with LSA to customize the right Management Training Program solution to meet our unique business needs. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner.

Ken Boehm
Vice President of Human Resources

What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.

Jeff Rangel
Director of HR

LSA’s consultant designed and delivered a half-day team building solution for our recent conference. It included careful customization to integrate the design with our new mission and values. Everyone had fun and identified key issues with our teamwork. Altogether a great program!

Bob Ward
Director of HR

The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.

Debra Martucci
Vice President, Information Technology

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

LSA custom designed a Management Development program that is absolutely “on target” for our technical managers. Their facilitator has done a superb job delivering the material in a way that is fast paced, highly interactive, and fun. She presents practical solutions to the people situations that our managers face every day. I regard LSA as an excellent partner that understands our business needs and a virtual member of our HR department.

Judith Onton
Vice President Human Resources

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More