A stretch target is potentially achievable but requires significant effort. Many business leaders believe that people achieve more when given stretch goals than more attainable ones. Setting high goals requires coaching on how to manage with them.
A stretch target is potentially achievable but requires significant effort. It can often only be attained through innovation or large amounts of brute force effort. This amount of effort likely can’t be sustained for long periods.
If they are so difficult, why would you set stretch targets? Many business leaders believe that people achieve more when given stretch goals than more attainable ones. Managers must clarify that the company and its employees aren’t expected to achieve 100% of the stretch goals.
In Measure What Matters, John Doerr showed how Google only expected to achieve 70% of its stretch goals. If people were achieving a higher percentage, they were presumed to be setting goals too low.
Extremely high goals come with a warning. People are wired to achieve goals. If they can’t achieve them ethically, there is a strong temptation to cheat. One example is Wells Fargo Bank. Wells put great emphasis on a metric that measured products per household. Employees opened thousands of fake accounts under pressure to meet high metric goals.
Setting high goals requires coaching on how to manage with them. They cannot be used as a stick to threaten people’s pay or employment status. You will need strong internal controls to prevent fraud. Compensation and performance evaluation must be measured across many metrics and non-metric qualitative factors.
I wish you goals that stretch your performance to greater success. I wish you well.
- Rob Stephens
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