Aim Before You Shoot: Goal-Setting Strategies to Ensure a Project’s Success

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

In business project management, goals are one of the most written and talked about tools because they often determine the success of the effort.

Numerous books and guides are concerned with business goals and strategies that help to achieve them and some sources suggest that development of goals is a quick and painless process. It is not exactly true because goal-setting strategies need to be developed in accordance with a variety of factors that differ from industry to industry. They are to identify the destination and provide the road map for getting to the goal, which is something that needs to be done very well, otherwise the project will be a failure.

Before we get to the specific goal-setting strategies, there are a number of essential rules that need to be acknowledged and understood. First and foremost, ask yourself why you are doing this project and what you need to achieve in the end. Second, the business project will ultimately fail if it does not have clear goals and objectives. Third, the project needs to be well-structured and organized to avoid chaos.

Now, let’s get down to business.

Strategy 1: Set specific goals and objectives

Let’s imagine you have an online business but your site is not visited by a required number of unique visitors. You need to correct this problem and set the goal to “increase the number of visitors to the site.” Sounds good, right? Well, not so much. The decision is actually great but the one thing is missing: proper interpretation. The number of visitors could be increased by a hundred but increasing it by ten would also be deemed as a success. Therefore, you need to be as specific and accurate as you can in setting the goals in order to get the required results and the revised strategy should sound something like “increase the number of unique visitors by 500 this month.” Now, the people working on the project would have the measurable goal and the possibility to plan the tools that will be used.

Strategy 2: Set attainable goals

If you want the project to succeed, you might set the final goals and objectives in accordance with the performers’ skills and abilities. If they are considered as unrealistic by the project participants, it is highly likely that the project will fail because no one believes in the appropriateness of the goals. In this case, the motivation of the team to reach the goal will be pretty much busted, so complicated goals should be assigned to experienced employees that perform well in difficult projects. To increase the chances of the project to succeed, its goals therefore need to be attainable because every team member has a unique set of skills that should be used during implementation. If the project complexity goes beyond the scope of expertise of the team, reaching the goals would be really difficult.

Strategy 3: Provide inspiring goals

Motivation and inspiration are already recognized as equal to financial motivation tools in modern business. This knowledge needs to be used to set the goals because their relevance should be considered for two sides; in addition to relevance for the company, the goals need to be relevant for the person that performs it. For example, if you have a team that is eager to learn something new, give them a project that allows them to do just that. Personal motivation apparently plays a great role here because they contribute to the overall performance of the team and the eventual outcome. When the team realizes that the objective is important for their development as well, they will definitely put more effort when compared to goals that do not have advantages for them.

Strategy 4: Make concrete deadlines

This strategy is similar to the first one described in this article in the sense that it demands specific information to stay productive and efficient. If a project goal has no objective it might be displaced by other immediate goals and tasks, so the probability of successful implementation significantly decreases. Let’s review an example. The goal “make the ‘About Us’ page on the website available for the visitors tomorrow” is incorrect because it should state the specific time, say, 2 pm. This way everyone involved in the project implementation will know the time when the deadline ends and dissatisfaction of the boss begins. Again, simple and effective strategy.

Strategy 5: Measure the achievements

At the planning stage, the project managers often disregard the importance of measurable achievements, thus avoiding a number of great things, such as more information and motivation effect. The first positive outcome is more information to the project managers; for example, measurable achievements will allow knowing how much work is still needed to be done. Next, the fact of an achievement can boost the morale and motivation of the project team because it provides the information about how much difficult work has been done. For example, instead of setting “increase the number of visitors on the landing page” as the achievement, try “increase the traffic on the landing page to 800 visitors per day.” The second option provides the manager with metrics that could be used to calculate the progress and provide more data for the team.

Strategy 6: Predefine If-then situations

It is possible that the project will not go smoothly to meet all deadlines and this should be clearly acknowledged in the planning. Various changing requirements and situations can set the project back but if the plan did not consider the solutions for this scenario, the team might face some serious consequences. To avoid them, use succinct goal setting. For example, instead of “the second website must be developed and go online by February 10” try “If the website is still under development on February 5, an additional developer should be added to the team.” This way, you increase the probability of achieving the goal by considering the if-then situation and providing the project team with a clear solution for the possible problem.


Apparently, effective goal-setting strategies are attainable, succinct, measurable, and specific. Every project needs to have such strategies because otherwise improper goal setting can lead to tension and frustration among the team members that are pushed beyond their expertise to deliver. However, thorough consideration and careful planning can help to avoid these outcomes and increase the chances of success because it increases motivation, provides alternative issue solutions, and aligns the goals and values of the company and each team member. Take time to come up with the goal-setting strategies because they are the road map that should lead to success rather than dead end.

This Guest Post was written by Scott Ragin, a social media specialist and an experienced writer Scott loves guiding other people through their content marketing practice and shares his ideas as as blogger. Scott Ragin is a content writing expert at Aussiessay. Feel free to contact him at Facebook.

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