Every year I ask all of the Billtrust managers to give me a list of 3 to 5 goals that they hope to accomplish in the coming year. These goals are supposed to be reasonably hard to achieve and important to the business. Goals like Increase Electronic Adoption to 40%, Accelerate Customer Service Initial Callback time by 15%, are good goals for the list. Come to work on time, be nicer to people, don't cut it. Whenever I hear a relatively simplistic goal, I like to quote a former boss - "Let's set the bar really low and we'll pass out shovels."
Goals need to be concrete, measurable, and important.
I add several goals of my own and that becomes the Billtrust Goal List for 200X and we refer to it throughout the year. The list can change for very good business reasons but I've always felt it was important to get the goals in writing and share everybody's goals with everybody else. It makes us all accountable to each other and keeps on our toes.
Occasionally I'll get push back on this because a manager thinks I've read one too many business books. I came across a great blog post by Seth Godin titled The thing about goals that justifies my thinking (at least for me it does). It's far easier to not have any goals and just keep doing what your doing. Setting goals makes you plan, tracking goals makes you accountable, hitting goals allows you stretch yourself. This can take people out of their comfort zone. If goals are hard to achieve, then this is hard work, as it should be.
Set your goals and then get to work!