Corporate goals are a common benchmark set by businesses and corporations to measure their progress towards fulfilling the mission or objective of the company. Essentially, while a mission statement or objective is somewhat vague – to “help the environment,” for example – a corporate goal is the quantified minimum needed to achieve that mission statement.
In the example above, the corporate goal to go with the mission statement might be something like, “to incorporate 30% recycled paper into all of our paper products.” Doing this would help the environment by reducing tree and paper consumption, while still giving a quantified value to the vague goal of “helping the environment.”
In this article, we’ll introduce you to more examples of corporate goals, explain why they’re important, and show exactly what they do for the corporation or organization that implements them.
Why Corporate Goals?
It’s all well and good for a business to have an inspiring mission statement to follow, but without a concrete direction to focus their efforts in, the gesture is mostly wasted. As lovely as helping the environment is, if a business doesn’t have a strategy in place to fulfill the goal, it will likely fall through the cracks. There’s too much going on in business to expect every member to find their own way to help the environment.
That’s why corporate goals exist, of course. If a team member knows that the company is working on incorporating recycled paper into their products, they’ll know to focus their efforts there. If a company wants to increase recycling on its campus, then that can be communicated to employees, as well.
Essentially, it boils down to this: as a general rule, a company’s mission statement is meant to communicate its goals to people outside the company, while its corporate goals are for communicating with people inside the company.
On top of that, corporations have many different reasons to set corporate goals besides just promoting company-wide understanding.
One of the primary goals of any savvy business is to increase profit while reducing expenses. If a company can create better profit margins, not only can they make more money, but they can also lower their prices to become more competitive in their chosen market.
Profits aside, though, enhancing operations can involve several other things, too. For one, businesses should always be looking to present a better, more error-free product to their consumers. Other operations that a company might be concerned with enhancing are:
- Increasing customer satisfaction
- Reducing employee injuries
- Improving communication between employees
- Raising employee efficiency
- Implementing better customer service procedures
Anything that has to do with the routine processes of the company falls under “enhancing operations,” whether this is physical or mental labor. Innovating new technologies and procedures falls under this category, as well.
If a business isn’t running at peak efficiency, it’s necessarily the same as throwing money right out the window. Inefficiency within the business model results in fewer profits, of course, but also unhappy employees and customers. If employee and customer satisfaction are too low, the corporation will eventually lose credibility and future business.
That’s why it’s so important to keep organizations at the cutting edge of efficiency and technology, even if these emerging technologies come with an upfront cost. In our cutthroat economy, if you don’t have the latest, cheapest, and most efficient methods with which to do business well, you will be edged out by someone who does.
The demographic that an organization is marketing to plays a significant role in the profitability of the item, the forms the product should take to appeal to buyers, and what business models and mission statements will attract those in that demographic. Millennials, for example, are particularly drawn to new, emerging tech, while Baby Boomers, in most cases, are not (or at least to a much lesser extent).
Like we showed with the example above, what you market to who makes all the difference in whether your product will sell. Sometimes, if a company is looking to expand into other markets, they must develop their business model and marketing practices to do so. Organizations can expand their markets in many ways, including:
- Acquiring other businesses that already sell to a particular market demographic
- Creating new products or versions of products that appeal to different groups
- Attempting to build a universally-attractive product
- Exploring different marketing techniques to attract new audiences
With all the unique, emerging marketing venues available for use nowadays, such as social media, streaming commercials, and ads, there is no shortage of creative options to help a company branch out. However, companies do need to be aware that different advertising media appeal to different demographics. Social media, for example, is far more common with younger audiences than older ones.
Organizations also need to be aware that being “content” with your current market share for an extended period of time equates to suicide. Like we mentioned above, if your business doesn’t stay on the cutting edge, it will eventually be edged out by someone who does. This is true for all parts of a company, both in expanding markets and the internal workings of the business itself.
Businesses should also be aware of stagnancy with their products, too. While some companies may be able to find a niche that allows them to sell their product relatively unhindered, the way that technology evolves prevents a business from relying on one iteration of a product forever. Consider the cell phone industry, for example, where phones become outpaced by new, superior products in a matter of months.
If a company can’t keep their employees and customers satisfied, they won’t be able to retain customers or workers, and the business will crumble. We referenced this earlier in this article, but this section capitalizes on the concept. Employee satisfaction doesn’t just have to do with keeping workers, though; happier employees are also proven to be more productive.
Like we’ve already referenced, if your company isn’t working at optimal productivity, it’s no different than throwing money out the window. A happy employee, for example, is more likely to value their time at work and work productively to keep their job position or work towards a promotion. An unsatisfied employee, on the other hand, likely doesn’t value their job as much, and might spend more of their time slacking off.
An employee who slacks off while on the clock, of course, is less productive on the whole. Better benefits breaks, and vacation time, in addition to a friendlier, more work-oriented atmosphere at work help to keep employees happy about their jobs. Take the mega-corporation Google, for example, which boasts some of the most enviable employee benefits available. It’s been consistently voted as one of the best places to work over the years.
In addition to the above, other things like the following can help employees feel happier in their jobs:
- Comprehensive employee training programs
- Caring and communication between the different hierarchical levels of the business
- Strict but fair discipline for employees who underperform or break the rules
- Plenty of opportunities to advance or earn incentives
You don’t need to ply your employees with treats and indulgences for them to be happy in their work. However, over-indulging your employees, in addition to costing the company valuable profits, can make them as lazy as an unhappy employee. The trick is striking that balance between hard work and incentivization that encourages more hard work.
If you can strike this balance, you’ll find that your employee retention rate, as well as the number of prospective workers applying to your company, will increase. In the meantime, there are many other flourishing companies out there, like Google, that you can use as examples.
Corporate goals of sustainability are not necessarily required for businesses to have, but anyone who cares about our environment should have designs on setting them anyway. Not only that, but sustainable corporate goals improve a corporation’s image, too. When given two nearly identical companies to choose from, customers will often select the one with the eco-friendlier image, if possible.
In addition, businesses that exist or that came to be in a particular community have a commitment to that community. They have a commitment to the people that keep the company working and thriving. Practicing sustainability is an excellent way to pay the community back, and it’s a way that’s recognized and appreciated by consumers, too.
With reports about the dire effect of our ministrations on the environment becoming common, it’s becoming more important than ever that corporations begin to set corporate goals centered on sustainability. It’s crucial that we set a good example and pave the way for other corporations to do the same.
How to Set Corporate Goals
While picking a corporate goal from what we’ve listed above is all well and good, real care should be taken when setting these corporate goals. Establishing a corporate goal will inevitably affect the image of your company, and what’s more, you’ll likely want to have more than one corporate goal running at any given time. Take time to do research and select which goals will suit your business best.
In this section, we’ll teach you how to do just that.
Know Your Enemies
Like we suggested further up, studying your competitors or your progenitors is always an option. Other companies that are doing well are excellent sources of information that can put you on the same path. However, you should be studying the failures of your competition, too. Make sure to look for companies like yours that have tried and failed at doing something, and try to isolate the reasons why.
Studying your competitors can also help you figure out what you’re doing wrong in general, rather than just in regards to a business venture. Compare the differences between your company, companies that are doing well, and companies that are failing, but make sure they’re all the same relative size and type. This can help you pick out trends that lead to success as well as failure.
Studying a competing company can come with varying levels of difficulty. Some very successful companies are very secretive about their methods, and other failures are the same way. However, when an organization does something exceedingly well or exceedingly poorly, information about it will be spread around. Even this limited information can be beneficial to your business in the long run.
“Benchmarking” is another term for describing how the internal processes of your company measure up to your peers’ or competitors’ organizations. It can even be used to refer to how different areas of the same company measure up against each other in terms of performance or output. Benchmarking will show which areas of your corporation are doing well and which areas are falling short.
Keep Your Goals Achievable
There’s no point to setting impossible corporate goals for your business, no matter how enticing they might look on paper. Make sure that all the goals you’re setting for your business are achievable within the timeframe you’re looking at, or they may come off as jokes or as unimportant to your employees. Moreover, they won’t be anything but figurehead goals for the company, which is a deceptive business practice.
However, you shouldn’t make your goals too small, either. The trick here, just like before, is to reach a balancing point between too ambitious and too conservative. Besides performing this balancing act to set achievable goals, you should also do the following things:
- Integrate your set goals through the entire company to inspire and inform employees of what they’re helping to accomplish
- Choose goals that are beneficial to the company itself
- Set goals that match up with the company’s resources and capabilities
- Try to include workers from every department of the company in the corporate goals
We already mentioned scoping out your competition to find some useful tips for corporate goals, but it can be useful to have your own business-savvy advisors on your side, too. There’s a reason why most large corporations have a board of directors that work together to make decisions, rather than just one person. In this situation and others, many minds are better than one.
If you don’t have a board to bounce ideas off of, it may be a good idea to think about hiring one. In fact, that can become one of your corporate goals to take care of over the next year or so, if you so desire! If you don’t have any such board available and won’t have one with any immediacy, have at least a business-savvy partner or friend who can serve as a springboard for your ideas.
Don’t forget that you can collect thoughts and ideas from your employees, as well! This approach is especially practical if your business is a small entity with only a handful of employees. While not quite the same as a board, a hand-picked group of competent, smart employees can come very close to the real thing, especially for a small business.
A SWOT analysis is an excellent way to parse through where your business is going in the present time to help you form your corporate goals. SWOT is an acronym that stands for the following:
The purpose of a SWOT evaluation is to use each letter in the acronym to see what’s going on in your business according to that letter, then decide what to do going forward from there. A SWOT evaluation will tell you where your business is doing well, where it’s suffering, and where the next big opportunity lies, in addition to what kinds of threats you might be facing in the near future.
A SWOT analysis is an important thing to do before setting any corporate goals for yourself. Your goals should always line up with what areas of your business need work and what opportunities are available to pursue. For example, if there has been a boom in consumer interest in smart home electronics and you’re in the business of making those, you should take advantage and boost production in those areas.
In the same way, if your SWOT analysis reveals that your employee retention rate is rather low, that should be where you set your goals. Your related corporate goal would be to decrease your employee turnover by a certain percentage.
Break Down Your Goals
While you’re working on setting your corporate goals, you may come across some that will take several years to complete, and others that can be done immediately or only take a year or two. While setting several long-term and short-term goals is fine, you can also think about breaking your largest, most imposing goals down into smaller steps.
Let’s say, for example, that your corporation’s mission statement is to be carbon neutral by the year 2023. That’s a big goal full of big steps and even bigger changes for your company. Rather than making your goal large and vague, try breaking it down into manageable steps for each year until then. Take the example below:
- Have all fleet vehicles run on purely electric energy by 2020
- Retrofit all company offices to run off of clean, renewable energy by 2021
- Build a tree-planting program to offset the company’s remaining carbon emissions by 2022
- Have the tree-planting program be in full effect by the year 2023
Even though the goals above are still reasonably large, year-long commitments, they’re easier to handle than the original goal. Furthermore, if you so desired, you could break the above goals down even further into half-year portions or less.
Don’t Forget Your Employees
We’ve touched on this briefly in the sections above, but it’s imperative to include your employees and departments in your plans for your corporate goals. Though they may have no say in the goal-setting process, they should at least be involved in and contributing to the final result.
If the employees in a corporation don’t feel connected to a corporate goal or don’t understand how they’re contributing to it, they won’t be as passionate about their work. It won’t mean as much to them, as they’ll essentially be working without an aim.
An employee who knows what they’re working for in the company, who knows where their work is going, will be naturally more engaged with and thoughtful about their work. Having a responsibility to the company itself makes employees want to find better ways to contribute and work towards success. An employee who cares about the work they’re doing will do better work in all situations.
That’s why aligning your goals between all departments is so essential. Each department should have some assignment that relates to the greater goal as a whole, and they should know why, too. Breaking your goal down is the first step, and those goals will be further broken down and handled by the departments below you within the company. This is called cascading and aligning.
A huge part of increasing the coherence in work between the different levels of an organization lies in communication and visibility across departments. Each department should be aware of what the departments above, below, and around them are doing at any given time. This makes it easier to ask questions, collaborate, and submit new ideas.
Maintaining visibility and communication across all areas of a corporation also helps get rid of redundancies in your workforce. If work is not communicated between departments, more than one group or team might end up working on the same thing, wasting money, manpower, and time. Maintaining transparency prevents this because duplicate teams will be able to identify themselves right away.
However, to maintain this level of coherence and clarity, you will likely need several someones on board who will take care of managing the situation. These managers will handle the distribution of tasks to different areas of the workforce, maintain clarity between themselves and other managers, and make sure employees are working optimally, among other things.
If you don’t have management officials ready to take on this task, it will be much more challenging to implement in a company of great size. In a small business with only a few employees, this will be much more manageable.
Before you can execute any of the goals you’ve set, you need to be sure that your company has the proper resources to handle those goals! For example, if we look to our sustainability goal from before, if the company in question doesn’t have the money or resources necessary to upgrade its fleet and infrastructure to a zero-emissions model, then the goal itself is useless.
Essentially, all you need to do here is to make sure your goals aren’t out of your means to accomplish. While this is similar to not making them too ambitious, it differs in the fact that these goals technically could be done without limiting factors like employees or money. Time, on the other hand, is not something that a corporation can hire or make more of, and too little time usually defines over-ambitious goals.
If possible, any limitations you might have should be identified before you set your corporate goals at all in order to minimize the chance that you’ll need to redact your goals later. Seeing these limitations in writing or in front of you can also help you identify the scope that you can handle for such purposes.
Reap the Rewards!
When you realize one of your hard-fought business goals, the fact that you’ve gotten there will be reward enough in itself, without even considering the progress and profit that you may have made as a result. Setting, following through with, and attaining a corporate goal is not easy!
However, don’t just celebrate on your own when your corporation does something extraordinary. The rewards for a job well done should be shared with everyone who contributed to it, no matter how large or small their role. You might think about doing this with:
- A corporate party
- Bonuses for exceptional (or all) employees involved
- An in-house lunch at work with dessert or special foods
- A corporate vacation
There are many ways to celebrate a job well done with your employees. As long as you don’t leave them out of the festivities, they will be sure to appreciate whatever you have in store for them!
Corporate goals are complicated. They’re complicated to set, difficult to tackle, and sometimes even hard to understand. However, with the right assistance, everyone in the organization can know what to do to help these goals come to fruition. It just takes a little effort on your part and a little willingness to do some extra work and communication.
That being said, though, corporate goals are an excellent tool for any business. Their power to streamline and bring together the efforts of hundreds of people is exceptional, and they’re the reason for many a success story. If you follow the steps in this guide, you’ll be an expert on corporate goals in no time!