When your team sets goals for your company, how often do you achieve them?

If you rarely follow through on what you say you’re going to do, you’ve got operational issues (and maybe also people, strategy, or finance issues to boot).

But believe it or not, past a certain point: higher achievement isn’t always better.

Why?

Because if you can consistently hit 100% of the targets you aim for, you’re probably playing it too safe.

Safety isn’t a bad thing. Not at all. For many companies, slow, steady, predictable growth is what they’re looking for.

But. If you are trying to scale a business—if your 10 year ambitions look significantly different than where you’re at today—you have to stretch yourself beyond what’s safe.

And sometimes, that means failure.

Believe it or not: failure isn’t always a bad thing either.

But it does take a specific mindset to do well. If you have a culture that only rewards success and (even unconsciously) punishes failure, you’ll end up with a team that consistently plays it safe. 

Can you blame them? That’s exactly what you’ve taught them the company wants.

If your team isn’t pushing themselves with their goals, if they aren’t reaching beyond where they are sure they can go, first see if you’ve got the system to support them doing so.

This takes courage. You might be risk-averse yourself (despite the reputation, plenty of entrepreneurs aren’t freewheeling). 

It takes time.

And it takes a framework that promotes growth and the right amount of risk—while maintaining accountability and discipline. Because you don’t want to bet the farm every time you set a goal, either.

In our next post, I’ll talk about how Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) can be used to provide this kind of framework—pushing your team forward while providing the appropriate backstops for security.

But the system only works if the culture to support it is there.

So for today, I want you to reflect on these questions:

In what ways do I support my team to stretch beyond what may be possible?

In what ways do I hold my team back from reaching or what may be beyond their grasp?

If I don’t like the answers to questions 1 and 2, what is one thing I could do differently?