Too often managers overseeing projects, goals and key initiatives make the mistake of just setting a final deadline. To ensure that both momentum and enthusiasm can be maintained throughout a project, it is necessary to establish “tollgates” to monitor progress.
Readers that are familiar with the building industry know that there is a projected timeline included in nearly every set of job specifications. Every trade involved knows when their work is to be scheduled and how long they will have to perform. Contractors then have regular progress meetings throughout the duration of the project to keep things on schedule to achieve the intended results. If the contractor had only a completion date, but no plans to monitor progress, chaos and missed deadlines would be inevitable.
Think of these intermediate goals as yard markers on a football field. The field is marked in five yard increments. The short term objective is to advance two increments – ten yards minimum – in no more than four attempts. When you accomplish this task, you get four more tries to do it again until you eventually reach the last marker – the goal line.
Breaking a 100 yard field into ten yard intermediate goals is how coaches, players and fans alike monitor progress. Imagine though that there were no lines on the field, rather you just had a coach screaming, “Run as far and fast as you can. I’ll let you know when you get there!” Sounds silly, sure, but in effect that’s what happens when quotas and goals are given without intermediary steps.
When you stand on one goal line of a football field, two yard line stripes don’t look to be very far away. Yet, from the same vantage point, you cannot see the stripe at the opposite goal line. Do your staff members know what “yard line” they are on at all times? It’s your job to see that they do.