Besides sales goals, most business aspirations are about making reductions. We strive to lower the cost of goods sold, reach zero product defects, or reduce cycle times. In the safety profession, the goal is always zero injuries. While all of those are important targets and will improve the business, setting a goal to lower something doesn’t quite have the same connotation as setting a goal that demonstrates an increase in something.

In aspects of our personal lives, we tend to strive for goals that grow such as the amount of money in savings and retirement accounts. We expect house values to increase and our children’s grades to be consistently straight A’s. Reaching a higher outcome is often associated with a positive outcome. Reaching for a lower outcome could be perceived as something of a negative outcome even though that is not what is intended.

What you say and how you say it can directly impact the outcome. By carefully restating a goal, especially ones that impact your team, colleagues, and employees, you might just change the trajectory of how you can get there.

With 2021 on the horizon and with the pandemic still looming, we need to be thinking more positively than ever. If you are starting to create long term strategic plans or short term annual plans for next year, consider developing goals that create a positive message in the outcome. Instead of striving for zero product defects, set the goal to be 100% defect free shipments. Instead of striving for zero employee injuries, set the goal to be 100% safe employees in 2021. If you want to reduce cycle times, set your goal to be a percentage increase in throughput.

Regardless of the improvements you want to make, say it positively. You might just get there faster! If you need help or ideas on goal setting or strategic planning, our team can help provide an objective point of view. Happy planning!


headshot of Staci Miller, Center Director

Staci Miller
WVU Industrial Extension