The Super Bowl just finished with one of the most memorable comebacks in the modern era. Tom Brady’s Patriots came back from 25 points down in the 3rd quarter to upset Matt Ryan’s Falcons. Could either of these teams make it to the Super Bowl without first setting some pre-season goals?

Let’s examine some hypothetical goals for the Patriots:

  • GOAL: Top 5 Defense in points/game
    • ACHIEVEMENT: 1st in NFL with 15.6 pts/game
  • GOAL: Top 5 Offense in points/game
    • ACHIEVEMENT: 3rd in NFL with 27.6 pts/game
  • GoaL: Top 5 Offense in yards/game
    • ACHIEVEMENT: 4th in NFL with 386.2 yds/game

And now some hypothetical goals for the Falcons:

  • GOAL: Top 5 in Offensive Yards/Play
    • ACHIEVEMENT: 1st in NFL with 6.7 yds/play from scrimmage
  • GOAL: Top 5 in Turnover Ratio
    • ACHIEVEMENT: 5th in NFL with +11 turnover ratio
  • GOAL: Top 5 in Wide Receiver Play
    • ACHIEVEMENT: 2nd in NFL (Julio Jones) in yards from Wide Receiver

Every professional sports team enters the season with team goals. Further, each player enters the season with individual goals related to their position. Should business be any different?


It is February. Do you have your goals for the year? If you are like most major companies, the goal setting takes place now to be put into everyone’s personal performance plans. These plans are finalized around April, leaving about 8 months to execute on the deeply formed plans resulting from extensive discussion with personnel. That means 33% of the year is lost just in putting together the plan. Can you imagine the Patriots or the Falcons waiting until game #6 to complete their goals and then trying to execute in the last 10 games?


Over the last 10 years great strides have been made in recognizing that performance appraisals need to be a separate discussion from individual goals. Goal setting should represent a positive experience for both the business and the individual. While performance appraisals deal with the “How” of achievement, goal setting should be about the “Wow” of achievement.


By now, we have all heard of the acronym for S-M-A-R-T goals. I want to address just two of the acronyms that get overlooked A-R (Attainable-Relevant or Aligned-Realistic). Regardless of the definition, both are trying to say the same thing—your goals, or more importantly, your team’s goals, must be tied to the overall Vision and Mission for the company and be achievable within the business environment. Does that mean that the goals should be easy? No, but the goals must be achievable if the proper resources are applied to the situation.

This brings an interesting question to the table: “If a goal is not met because of lack of resources, should that count against the individual or business?” The answer is complex. Yes, the business must take into account that the goal was not achieved. No, an “individual” should not be held accountable, if he/she was not provided the proper resources. So who is responsible for providing the resources? In short, the “Leader” is responsible. This brings an important point within business; goals are not achieved singularly, but through the efforts of the team.


It is time to bring this all together. We already mentioned that Goals must support the overall Vision and Mission for the company. Therefore, the business leaders must first set the company strategy (in terms of the Vision and Mission) to create that alignment. Corporate and business goals should be established in the prior year before the New Year even begins. This will set the foundation for proper goal setting.

Next, the leadership team should examine the current and future Tactics to achieve the Strategy. Tactics can be defined by platform Objectives. Supporting each Objective will be a comprehensive set of Actions. If these Objectives and Actions are well thought out, they can be rolled out to all personnel so that there is a comprehensive understanding of the Strategy for the year.


In summary, to avoid being a procrastinator, set your business goals in the prior year, NOT in the first quarter. This will help to separate Performance Appraisals from Goal Setting. Focus your team’s efforts on creating the “Wow” factor needed to achieve your growth targets. Use the Vision and Mission to DRIVE the strategy. True Leaders will balance Supporting a Strategy versus Driving a Strategy. Jointly as a team, create the Tactics (or Objectives) that support the Strategy. Then ask the team to develop concrete Actions to DRIVE the Tactics. The roll-out to all personnel to create alignment using S-M-A-R-T goals will then be easy. Right? Let’s examine that in another article.

About the Author: Garrett Grega is a Certified Business Coach with FocalPoint Business Coaching in Branchburg, New Jersey, where he specializes in reconnecting executives, business owners, and managers with their business passions! He has 20+ years helping international companies launch new products and processes. He previously spent 8 years launching LED lighting products for various lighting companies. His professional experience includes: strategic planning, business development, marketing, and product development. See more at www.garrettgrega.focalpointcoaching.com


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