How a Good Manager Sets Goals

by Linda Ray

Goal-setting is the foundation of success for any manager and any company. Setting goals helps managers and their teams be proactive and orient their work in the right direction. Even the most productive teams would be useless if all of their talent was put toward an unimportant or unattainable goal. Good managers practice setting personal goals for themselves and in-depth, realistic goals for their teams.

Assess Resources

To be an effective goal-setting manager, take stock of your situation at this moment. Expect certain limitations on what you can reasonably expect to accomplish. Determine the basic character of the organization; management or client demands; resources you have at hand; and the makeup of your team. Refrain from setting a nonspecific goal, such as "increase sales," if you do not have the resources to make it happen. Instead, ask what your team needs to meet a specific goal and whether you have the resources at hand to move forward.


Orient yourself toward a realistic and helpful goal. It's not enough to set a goal just because it can be accomplished. Determine what kinds of actions would be useful and proactive for your business, yourself and your team. For example, you might have a reasonable goal in mind that could drastically increase profits in the short term. However, if your strategy is in direct conflict with the spirit and culture of your organization, it's not worth implementing. The most important goals and the highest priorities might not seem exciting, but are often crucial for continued success.

Address Obstacles

When you have a clear idea of a realistic goal, address the day-to-day logistics of working toward that goal. Figure out what needs to happen today, then work through obstacles you encounter. Oftentimes, once a goal is formulated, it becomes obvious that it is much more ambitious than originally anticipated, or requires additional resources. This does not add up to failure. Working through obstacles is a crucial part of effective goal realization. It is far better to allow for flexibility and re-evaluation than it is to stick to a rigid course in an effort to avoid admitting failure.

Evaluate Results

As a manager, planning, coordinating and directing actions toward clear goals make up the essence of your job. This happens all along the way, from day-to-day activities to long-term planning. Goal-setting is an ongoing process, and for positive results, you must consciously and constantly evaluate the results and gauge your progress. This includes getting feedback from outside sources. For example, maybe your plan to save money this quarter was perfectly executed. However, if it resulted in drastically longer hours for your whole team, your goal was undermined by an unforeseen problem. By constantly evaluating your progress, you can make continual improvements.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images