Changing Goal Targets Midway Through the Quarter

Several years ago, in the early days, I remember us putting down a company-wide sales goal for the quarter that proved to be much too ambitious. With most of the quarter done, and it clear we weren’t going to hit our goal, I changed the goal target to one we would hit and explained we made a mistake when setting it. This was the wrong approach.

Here are some thoughts and questions about changing goal targets midway through the quarter:

  • When setting goals, it’s important to be consistent around expectations. Are goals meant to be achieved? Are they stretch goals?
  • If a goal is changed midway, how changeable are the other goals? What makes one changeable and another not changeable?
  • When reviewing past quarterly goal performance (e.g. year in review), how do you account for how well you did with setting and meeting quarterly expectations? How is longer term analysis affected by changing goals after they were set?

While it might seem trivial in the early days, it’s important to set the tone and seriousness of company-wide goals. Changing goal targets midway through the quarter should be avoided. Rather, keep the goal target and be transparent about why it wasn’t hit and what will be done differently going forward.

What else? What are some more thoughts on changing goal targets midway through the quarter?

One thought on “Changing Goal Targets Midway Through the Quarter

  1. I appreciate the frequent pragmatism of your blog and the number of dynamics present in a) goal setting, b) transparency, c) communication, and d) organization context implicit in this post raise a ton of questions I’ve struggled with myself:

    In this case, you said “it was the wrong approach.” How come? How did people react when you revised the target? Did they try less hard? Or was it simply that the impression was that goals were fungible and therefore you saw people become less disciplined in execution?

    If you are transparent about why the goal was missed, how does/did that influence the target you set for the subsequent quarter?

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