Hitting the Mark or Marking the Hit?

A LinkedIn posting from one of my friends had this picture in it indicating that his firm “hit the mark!”   That made me think of some funny stories of people seeing where the arrow landed and then painting the bullseye around it … marking the hit.

Cute as this might be, managers learn very quickly that employee morale and productivity depend heavily on an identifiable and achievable goals and objectives.  They use the term stretch goals to specifically identify things that are possible, but would require extra levels of effort.  Over time, as the team sees progress and refinement of the way they work together, short term tracking against these goals and objectives can be extremely beneficial.  Working smarter, not harder, is of course necessary and uplifting in this model.

Unfortunately, not everyone is necessarily on board.  Some may want to coast and let others do the work.  Some may even resent the goal setting process and want to sabotage the team so that the expectation is lowered.  Good leaders will not stand for this and normally will confront these bad actors, counsel their behavior, and where necessary remove them from the team.  As the phrase goes, one bad apple can ruin the barrel.

All this can get tiresome in a business world where everything seems uncertain and changing.  Customer expectations keep rising and shifting.  They don’t seem to appreciate all the hard work that went into attempting to make them happy.

So, when all else fails, is the best thing to do is to paint the bullseye around wherever the arrow landed and declare that success?  After all, finding all the things that are moving in the right direction and weaving them together as a narrative indicating how that was a result of your good work can seem to make sense.

When this is simply creative writing, the team scoffs and will rebel.  If this is simply to bide time until something emerges as a productive strategy, it can be beneficial.  But, the key here is that it is the creative point of view looking at what moves the organization in the right direction … which then leads it further down the road to what really does work.

Small steps, but steps never the less.  Sitting still and painting the bullseye on a stationary point of view is deadly.

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