Aim for Specific Project Goals

Most company owners, managers and workers don’t have a clue when they hit a homerun or win the game. Employees are told to "do your best," or "work as hard as you can," but not given specific milestones to shoot for. Most managers never sit down and write out the goals before they start a new project. And when the job is completed, the team doesn’t sit down and review how well they did. I conducted a survey recently of 2,000 construction and development companies and discovered these findings.

Do you aim at anything?

Do you have specific written targets for every area of your business? You are in the majority if you don’t. Only 39 percent of companies surveyed set and track progress towards their annual profit and sales goals. The majority must try to make as much as they can and are satisfied with whatever they get.

Only 30 percent have written goals and track progress for fixed overhead costs, 24 percent track job safety, 17 percent watch their customer service goals, 12 percent have employee development targets, 8 percent have repeat customer goals, and 7 percent know their bid-success ratio. Less than 29 percent say their field employees have specific goals for their workmanship or productivity. This lack of any specific written targets reduces overall company performance.

Baseball without batting averages?

Can you imagine a baseball team where the coach didn’t have a team goal for winning games, and players didn’t have individual goals for hitting, fielding or pitching? Sadly, most companies send their teams onto the field without targets to aim at. At the project level, only 40 percent set clear goals for job profit, 30 percent for on-time schedule and 29 percent for field productivity. Even companies who do set goals, only 38 percent ever tell their employees what they are! The result: most management, field and administrative players don’t know when they get a hit or make an error, what’s their batting average, or if they win any games!

Aim at something!

The truth is, people who have written goals are twice as successful than those who don’t. The first step to success is simple: just write your targets down! To set your goals use my ‘’ method:

  • S - Specific
  • W - Written
  • A - Attainable
  • T - Time-Deadline
  • C - Challenging & Clear
  • O - On-Purpose…On-Target
  • M - Measurable

Start with your overall company goals, then write out project and individual goals. If your company goal is to finish every project on time, every project must have written goals with specific action steps. Use this example to write your goals:

 Project Goal: Finish project on-time

  • Deadline: Complete project July 31
  • Action step #1: Pre-project team strategy session
  • Action step #2: Identify tasks and interim milestones
  • Action step #3: Assign responsibilities to team members
  • Action step #4: Set project team weekly meeting schedule
  • Action step #5: Implement weekly schedule review
  • Action step #6: Track progress weekly & make adjustments

Set pre-project milestones

Before you start a project, get the estimator, project manager, field superintendent and foreman together to draft overall goals. Hold a pre-job team meeting to discuss the targets and get everyone on the same page. From there, follow up with weekly and monthly project team meetings. At the end of the project, hold a general review meeting to decide where you can improve and refine goals for the next project.

Set weekly targets

Use Monday morning team meetings to get people focused on the targets. Set weekly goals, write them down and give each team member a specific target to hit, regardless of their position. For example, to stay on schedule for this week, dig 500 lineal feet of pipe, or complete all touch-up painting for the project, or get all outstanding change orders approved by Friday.

Set monthly goals

Get your team together monthly to review progress on big targets such as customer satisfaction, quality, safety, productivity, profit and schedule. Also set goals for general conditions, labor, equipment and overall job costs.

To get started setting goals, email to get you “Goal & Targets” worksheets. Incorporate goals into your company mindset. If your priority is to stick to a schedule, make sure your team knows it’s a top priority and what the milestones and deadlines are! Otherwise, it is too easy to get sidetracked by “urgent” job problems and miss your targets. Aim at something, write it, track it, communicate it, and hit it out of the park every time!

George Hedley works with contractors to build profitable growing companies. He is a professional business coach, popular speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Business To Work!” available online at To sign-up for his free e-newsletter, join his next webinar, be part of a BIZCOACH program, or get a discount coupon for online classes at, e-mail