How To Set Objectives During Times of Uncertainty

How To Set Objectives During Times of Uncertainty
How To Set Objectives During Times of Uncertainty

Post Written By Maurice Harary, Forbes Councils Member

Like many business owners, you’re most likely heading into 2021 with a sense of uncertainty. How will you define “success” after persevering through the challenges of 2020? You might need to significantly redefine your company’s goals and objectives or, if you’re lucky, simply apply a few minor adjustments to account for the new reality created by the pandemic.

Regardless of your approach, you’ll need to identify the key objectives your business needs to accomplish. As you begin the process of setting your company’s objectives for the new year, here are some creative ways to define and track your key performance indicators amid ongoing uncertainty.

Set and define KPIs for your business.

KPIs are commonly defined as “The critical (key) indicators of progress toward an intended result,” according to Every KPI needs to have a clear target and data source, plus consistency in its frequency of reporting. When defining your target or goal, be sure to align the expectations with any uncertainty you might face in the new year. Will the pandemic continue to impact your forecasts for any given period of time? If so, try ramping up your goals to be more aggressive as the year progresses.

It’s exceptionally important to have confidence in your reporting tools as well. Your data sources must be reliable and accurate so you can properly gauge your progress toward any particular goal. Choose clear and precise analytics for measurement, not objective statements or feelings. Never rely on estimates or promises; look at only raw, quantifiable data.

Finally, decide how often the KPIs need to be measured. Revenue on specific products might need to be closely tracked each week, while statistics on employee turnover rates might only be needed on a monthly basis.

Identify KPIs critical to your business.

It’s easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of data and analytics, making it critical to stay focused on your company’s main goals and objectives. Don’t lose sight of your core values. Take a moment to ask yourself what’s most important to your business. For some, it may be month-over-month sales growth, while for others, they don’t care how much they sell as long as the profit is there. No matter the metric you’re focused on, be sure to design your KPIs around these goals.

Also, you should have easy access to the data needed for analyzing these objectives, as this data is most important to your business. If you don’t have a reliable dataset to pull from, perhaps this objective isn’t as crucial to your business as you thought. Sales and expense reports or documentation from your human resources department can help easily define the information needed to track each KPI accordingly.

Determine supplemental KPIs.

Supplemental KPIs are those needed to support your critical business objectives. If your core objective is to reduce staff turnover, supplemental KPIs could include a more comprehensive scouting and onboarding process. Or, a main objective of reducing expenses could be supplemented by the completion of staff training programs that help identify waste or supply excess in the workplace.

These supplemental KPIs help guarantee the success of your critical KPIs by promoting reinforcing activities. After all, you can’t call yourself an expert chef if you don’t know how to properly dice, chop and julienne vegetables. The same is true of any business objective you set. By encouraging the completion of ancillary tasks, the likelihood that the main event will be successful is that much higher.

Pinpoint your internal KPIs.

Internal KPIs can be those that help develop and foster professional relationships within the workplace or even enhance communication among your team. The pandemic has forced millions of employed adults who would otherwise not work remotely to do so for the first time in their lives. For many, finding ways to monitor your staff’s productivity is not only crucial but also totally new and uncharted territory. 

For teams like ours that are primarily remote (even pre Covid-19), we’re able to maintain interactions through communication channels such as Slack, Google Meet and Zoom. This communication is key to understanding the staff’s mindset and directives during the workday. And further, soliciting feedback on communication through a discussion of KPI objectives can prove to really enhance the manager-employee relationship. Oftentimes, a quick weekly check-in that involves a discussion regarding KPIs can bring to the surface an issue that would’ve remained unresolved otherwise.

While the uncertainty of 2021 looms near, stay positive. Your business was able to overcome the unique obstacles of 2020, while many others were not as fortunate. Now, having a more refined understanding of the path ahead will help you better prepare for the new year and any new hurdles that might develop. Your company’s objectives can be measured with clear, organized KPIs that are aligned with your new workplace reality. As long as you keep focused on your core business objectives, assign goals to support those objectives and foster growth and communication within the workplace, you’ll be better poised for a successful 2021.

Forbes Article Link: How To Set Objectives During Times of Uncertainty