• Andreas Dankelmann

Turn Your Ideas Into Action

With what feels like a blink, 2019 passed by. This is a good time to reflect on the year. Did you achieve your 2019 goals? Your personal, business, and leadership goals? Did you set any at all, or avoid doing so because thinking about all the things you want to do feels insurmountable and sends you into a downward spiral.

Now, before starting a whole new list, let’s take a moment to reflect on last year’s list. How many goals did you set? One, five, 15? How many did you achieve? Now pick a goal you didn’t achieve and think about why you didn’t achieve it, and why you set the goal in the first place.

If you are like most people, you started the year with all good intentions, energized, and ready to go. You were going to work out, take that dream vacation, hire that new employee, and make this the best year ever, and then…. life happened. The excuses might include issues that arise every day at work, other “priorities” that suddenly take precedence, family obligations, and a variety of other reasons we use to explain why we just couldn’t achieve what we set out to do.

One reason we fail often and don’t achieve our goals is that we take on too much. If you haven’t worked out in a while, trying to swim two miles the first time you get into the pool is probably a bit much and might leave you feeling sore, exhausted, and unmotivated. With the right preparation, a plan, and milestones along the way, however, swimming two miles is very achievable for most people.

The same holds true for the goals and targets we set for our companies, teams, and organizations. The old saying, “when everything is important, nothing is important,” is still a trap I see many clients fall into when defining their company’s goals.


Goals are the things that are supposed to motivate us forward, and drive progress and growth. They are not the daily tasks and chores that fill up most of our day. They are a way to capture your ambition and the ambition of your teams and employees. They are a tool to create alignment across your entire organization to ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction.

According to Gallup, 66 percent of employees are disengaged at work. However, when done properly, setting goals can improve commitment materially and help clarify an employee’s role – the single biggest driver of organizational health (McKinsey, 2017), and can act as a consistent standard for high performance.


As you reflect on last year and start thinking about 2020, I invite you to think about three goal categories:

  1. Business goals

  2. Leadership goals

  3. Personal goals


Let’s start with business goals and ask yourself these questions:

  • If I can only commit to one goal this year, what would it be?

  • How will this goal support my company strategy?

  • What are the milestones I need to achieve to reach this goal?

  • How do I measure progress and success?

  • What resources do I need?

In a recent study by Wakefield Research, 92 percent of surveyed adults said they would be more motivated to achieve their goals if colleagues could see their progress.

Once you and your leadership team have identified your goal(s) for the year, ensure you create alignment and visibility throughout your organization. This will help your teams stay motivated, focused, and prioritize if there’s ever a question about resource and time allocation. Cascade the goals down into the organization collaboratively and autonomously, enabling the individual employee to set their personal goals that align with your strategy and annual plan.


For your leadership goals, instead of formulating what you are going to do, this time, think about what you are going to stop doing. If you are having trouble identifying something, ask your team members or employees this question:

“What is the one thing I should stop doing going forward?”

If that feels too uncomfortable, Marshall Goldsmith’s famous list of 20 Bad Habits, Challenges in Interpersonal Behavior, might be a good place to start. The top three are:

  1. Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations 

  2. Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion 

  3. Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them

(For a complete list refer to 20 Bad Habits)

While it is unlikely that any of us is guilty of everything  on the list, most can certainly relate to at least a few items. Pick one or two that you recognize in your own behavior and that you feel will make the biggest difference in how you lead your teams and employees to make you a better leader.

As with business goals, we need to find a way to measure progress and success. Who are the stakeholders that will benefit from your improvement and who can provide feedback on your progress? Find an accountability partner you trust who will be able to support you in your endeavor.


For your personal goals, take a moment to reflect on the six elements that matter in life and where you want to focus on this year:

Health: Without health, the rest doesn’t really matter.

Wealth: Have you established a personal financial plan that allows you to live the life you desire, now and in the future?

Positive relationships: Do you have positive relationships with the people that matter to you? Family, friends, and co-workers?

Achievement: Are you making a difference?Do you feel you are making an impact and what you do matters?

Happiness & meaning: Are you doing things that are meaningful to you and that make you happy?

How are you doing on the six factors that matter in life? What are your areas of strength and weakness? Are you doing your best to stay healthy? Do you take care of your finances to allow for an income that lets you live comfortably? Are you working hard to create positive relationships with people you care about? Are you making a positive impact on your environment and the people around you? Are you simultaneously achieving happiness and meaning? Are you doing the things that matter and are meaningful to you?

As you set your personal goals for 2020, think about who you want to share these with and who you would want to help keep you  accountable so you set yourself up for success.


When setting goals for our businesses, we first need to ensure they are aligned with our company’s Core Focus, the “why” we do what we do and our niche in which we operate. No matter the size of your organization, you have the opportunity to align everyone behind a set of shared goals that help you achieve the vision everyone is working towards. However, there’s only so much time we can attribute to these goals, at the end of the day we have a company to run and we need to keep the trains on track. People and companies that are successful in achieving their goals stick to the mantra of “less is more,” focusing on one to five goals, not on 23. Once our customers understand and live this concept, their success rate in achieving goals increases from 60 percent to over 85 percent. In addition, the quality of the work increases simultaneously.

As mentioned above, one reason we fail to achieve our goals is taking on too much. The other is setting the time frame too far out without the structure to constantly check progress. A lack of solid mechanisms to consistently check-in on how we and our employees are on track to achieve our goals will likely derail our efforts. To avoid this, we need to break our yearly goals down into shorter, executable pieces. We call these “Rocks” (in analogy to Stephen Covey’s “First Things First”).

To establish this short cadence, we create a 90-day-world(TM) for the organization as a mechanism to stay focused and track progress. To begin, we look at the yearly goals we set, and define the objectives and milestones we need to achieve in the first quarter, our quarterly “Rocks”. They represent key results we need to achieve along the way to reach our goals. 

For example, if your yearly goal is to increase sales by 20 percent, your quarterly rocks for the first quarter might be:

  • Generate 200 leads per month

  • Document and enforce sales process

  • Implement quarterly employee training

You start at the top, letting the key stakeholders set the top five (or less) objectives for the year. That’s the top of your goal setting pyramid. But how does it trickle down to the rest of the organization?

Let’s explore: The next layer of management, whether that’s VPs or department heads — depending on your business and its organization— take time to understand these top priorities. Then, they identify one or a set of rocks they think they can move. They take these rocks and use them as the foundation of their own objectives for their departments. They then set the rocks for the quarter that will help achieve the objective. The process is then repeated.

The next step  is to make sure we can measure progress. Effective Rocks are, Specific and Timebound, Aggressive, yet Realistic. Most of all, they are Measurable and verifiable. In short, they are SMART. With whatever goal you set, in the end, can you look at them and  say, "Did I do that, or did I not?" Yes or no. No arguments.

The last thing we need to implement is a practical tool to consistently check progress. This  provides everyone in the organization with the opportunity to raise concerns, bring up issues and roadblocks, and ask for help. For that, we establish a weekly Level 10 Meeting with the main focus on reviewing progress, solving issues, and eliminating roadblocks.


Interested in learning how EOS can help you grow your business? Contact us to schedule a free 90 minute meeting.

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