[Q&A] What should we do if we aren’t meeting our annual goals?

Aug 04, 2023

Q: What should we do if we aren’t hitting our annual targets?

A: This session surfaced a lot of great insight (and great sports analogies) from our experts. The main takeaways we found:
1. Don’t move the goal target. Assess what’s wrong and adapt your strategy.
2. Focus on “winning the quarter,” rather than the whole game.
3. Never give AI your trade secrets or proprietary data.


Great question! Here are a few of the best answers from our Strategy Collaborative Q&A Session!

In this Ask Us Anything session, we dive into the challenging question of what to do when we aren’t hitting our annual targets. Industry experts share their perspectives and provide valuable insights and creative sports analogies on this topic. Let’s explore some of the key takeaways!

Keep the Targets, Adapt the Strategy.

“When your kicker keeps missing the goal, do you move the goal post?”

Of course not! Keep the annual targets unchanged, even if it becomes apparent that they won’t be met. Changing the targets to align with your current progress (or lack thereof) can undermine the integrity of those goals and negatively impact the motivation of your team. They’ll feel like the targets don’t need to be taken seriously if they can just be changed on a whim.

It’s better to maintain the goal as it is and use it as a learning experience to determine what’s working and what’s not. Then, figure out how to adjust. Confront the reality of the situation and identify areas where adjustments can be made. This might involve revising mid-year plans or recalibrating activities to improve performance.

Focus on adapting the strategy and adjusting the activities to align with the established targets. This approach ensures that the organization remains committed to its original objectives and strives for continuous improvement.

Pro Tip:

Review the guiding principles and approach to change during the goal-setting process. This allows organizations to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances and adapt their plans accordingly.

Focus on winning one quarter at a time.

Continuous improvement is a recurring theme when addressing missed targets. If we may incorporate another sports analogy into the mix, sometimes it’s better to focus on “winning the next quarter” and strive for progress.

Reframing targets within shorter time horizons, such as quarterly goals, can help maintain motivation and focus. By winning each quarter and steadily progressing, teams can keep the momentum going, even if the initial months have been challenging.

By setting mini targets that aim to exceed previous performance levels, organizations foster a mindset of growth and development.

Look at this as an opportunity to learn [rather than just a loss].

In looking at goals that aren’t being met, look at the bigger picture, like environmental factors and market conditions, or internal forces. Reflect on your hypothesis and understand where you may have oversimplified or overlooked critical factors. This introspection helps leaders refine their target-setting approach and make better-informed decisions in the future.

If you have to move the goal post, consider changing the field, too.

Environmental changes can impact an organization’s ability to meet its annual targets. Factors such as economic shifts or regulatory changes may necessitate adjustments, and it may make sense then, to move the goal post.

However, in such cases, it is not a matter of solely changing the goals–you’re also considering the plan and budget, too. Adjustments like this should involve reworking the budget and aligning all elements of the plan to the new reality.

Pro Tip:

Effective communication and collaboration between the board and executive leadership are essential during times of change. Creating a shared understanding of the approach to unforeseen circumstances enables proactive decision-making and ensures alignment throughout the organization.

It is demoralizing to realize you’re not going to hit your targets; we get it. But rather than changing the goals to fit a narrative of success that doesn’t match reality, approaching the issue from a place of growth and adaptability is key. Addressing the challenge of missed annual targets requires a thoughtful and strategic approach, as well as an open and honest mind, and a drive to gain the wins where you can.

Additional Resources to Consider

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