It’s the natural inclination of any small business owner to be heavily involved with every project. But it’s the duty of any boss to delegate responsibilities and provide guidance/oversight above all. When the team is small, the boss wants to be hands-on. Where they have the biggest impact, however, is in how they lead.

Setting monthly goals and assigning specific tasks and targets is the best way to maximize the productivity of teams. Individuals have ownership of assignments and accomplishments. As a result, they feel inspired and acknowledged when they complete one of those goals. Everything from morale, to innovation, to employee retention improves as a result.

Leading effectively is imperative but never easy. Monthly goals must be carefully calibrated, and performance must be tracked delicately. Use these steps to ensure that goals are both realistic and impactful.

  1. Set the Right Kind of Goals – This step really determines whether a goal is met or not. It is up to the leader to set goals that are clearly defined to avoid confusion, and measurable enough to track progress and performance. The goal must also be realistic to achieve and within the skills and resources available to those taking it on. Finally, it needs to have clear beginning, end, milestone dates set so that expectations are clearly understood.
  2. Define Timelines and Expectations – The purpose of this exercise is to inspire and accomplish at the same time. Goals that have clearly articulated tasks tied to definite timelines make completing them feel more meaningful. For instance, say someone is assigned to get a business insurance online quoteand report within the week. When it’s done by Wednesday afternoon the task taker feels extra productive. Plus, both boss and colleagues can clearly see the above-average performance.
  3. Facilitate Success – Just because a boss delegates responsibility does not mean he is absent entirely. Managers must be available to answers questions, clarify expectations, provide guidance, and extend resources. Perhaps most importantly, managers must be willing to readjust goals as necessary. If someone is far behind schedule or falling below expectations the original goal is meaningless. The team member will only fail and feel personally and professionally embarrassed. Developing more realistic and still productive goals serves everyone’s interests.
  4. Provide Recognition and Reward – No one wants to feel like their accomplishments are overlooked. That is why providing reward and recognitionare such powerful ways to inspire. Not only do recipients feel like they are being recognized and appreciated. Reward recipients also feel like their hard work has personal benefits. It’s an important way to acknowledge individuals for how much they add to a business.
  5. Use Positive Pressure – Managers must avoid impossible goals, but they shouldn’t avoid challenge altogether. Making a big deal out of easily-attainable goals is insulting. But when those goals actually push individual/teams to go above and beyond, they are motivating and validating instead. A big part of finding the right balance is to be flexible and open to feedback.

The best business is a sum that is greater than its parts. With the right team and the right goals, the equation is assured.