One of the central building blocks of Performance Management is target setting. The theory is that targets provide a focus and are therefore more motivating than working without a specific aim. But the reality is more complex. Sometimes, rightly or wrongly, we just don’t believe the target is achievable. Then all motivation vanishes.
So simply setting a target isn’t enough – we have to believe the target can be hit.
One way of doing that is to find out what results other people get in similar circumstances. For example, if you are sending out a direct marketing campaign, find out what typical response rates are for your industry. If you are starting an initiative to raise customer satisfaction levels in your company, find out what results your competitors get to such surveys. Sometimes the information is difficult to find, and sometimes it is surprisingly easy.
You can, for example, easily work out the sales turnover per head for other organisations. General knowledge, or information published by the company, might tell you how many salespeople they have. It’s not an exact science, but it gives a rule of thumb when figuring out realistic targets for salespeople.
So a target isn’t really a target unless it is grounded in evidence that it can be achieved. Once you know that someone else can hit or exceed a target, you then know that all you have to do it figure out how to do it for yourself. Because you, and your team, know it can be done. Then all that’s required is to unleash your creativity and energy to go and do it.