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What is success?

“Some people dream of success... while others wake up and work hard at it.” - Author Unknown

We often talk about ‘success’ but usually don’t stop to think about what it really means. Success is different things to different people and we need to define it very carefully if we’re going to achieve it in the business world.

In business we need to enlist the help of others if we expect to succeed. We have to first work out what it is that we want and then harness the energies of our team to help us achieve it.

One of management’s greatest responsibilities is getting the team directed toward success - our success in fact. Every member of the team has to work with us to help us attain our goals; this means they share our goals with us and accept them as their own.

Let’s say you’re the owner of a manufacturing business and you feel that you will achieve success if your business grows to a certain size based on its revenues. You are realistic enough to know that nothing like this is going to happen overnight.

Success is usually an incremental thing and it is on the increments that you need to focus before you can personally succeed. Therefore you set out to achieve success by getting the energies of your team focused on a series of goals that will, if reached, contribute to your business growing to the targeted size.

You can’t expect a marksman to hit the target if he doesn’t know what the target is! An essential element of goal-sharing is that everyone knows exactly what the goals of the business are. Management has to first define these goals and then communicate them to the rest of the team.

When you’re working to define the goals of your business for your team, try to incorporate as many of these features as possible:

  1. The goals should be measurable
  2. The goals should be clear and unambiguous
  3. Progress toward goals should be easy to observe
  4. Progress should be communicated frequently to your team

A really bad idea for a goal is something like ‘Increase revenues by 10%’. This says nothing about how such an increase is to be achieved. A goal should be a ‘how to’ rather than a ‘what’. It’s far better to say ‘increase the number of weekly sales calls to 25’. This is a measurable goal. It’s clear and easy to observe progress towards a goal that is quantified. But that’s not all a goal has to be. It also has to be realistic.

When setting a goal it’s up to you to ensure that it can actually be reached and won’t place unnecessary stress on your team. There’s nothing worse than to set a goal that’s unattainable; this only demoralizes everyone and is totally counterproductive in its effect.

Assuming the target of 25 sales calls you’ve set is a realistic and achievable goal, how can progress towards it be communicated to the team? This kind of goal is straightforward and can be monitored on a daily basis. A chart on the wall showing the number of sales calls each day with a running total would quickly tell the team how the effort is progressing.

There’s another element of success that’s important to everyone in business. Success should be shared with those who have created it. The sales calls each day could be expressed in a way that shows the number of calls by each team member as well as a daily total, with the person making the greatest number of calls given a highlight at the end of each day.

This can be part of a bigger overall contest that rewards the person making the greatest number of sales calls in a week, or a month, or a quarter. The important thing here is to have a mechanism that tracks progress towards a goal and permits tangible recognition to be given to those who deserve it.

Define “success” for yourself and your business and then think of the increments you and your team need to accomplish to achieve this success. Work hard at it and reward your team every time they make a contribution to this success. You’ll then not only know what success is, you’ll also know how it feels.

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Business Roadmap provides practical business advice for small to medium sized businesses that are trying to overcome problems, or are trying to achieve their vision and full potential. Visit the Business Roadmap website for further information.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information, Blue Mountains Web Pty Ltd. (trading as Stralia Web), Business Roadmap Pty Ltd. and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents. Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.

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