Whenever a new year comes around, to most of us it comes with the proverbial clean slate – new goals and new opportunities to redo the disappointments of last year. Exciting, right? But the truth is, many times the goals we set for ourselves and others are not met. Is it that we lose focus, feel overwhelmed or give up – why don’t we meet our targets?

Organizations are ambitiously looking for affordable but efficient ways of either expanding their business, increasing their bottom line, venturing into new markets, launching a new product or introducing a change programme, and are almost always keen to achieve them at all cost.

While these ambitious targets seem like a great opportunity for the organization to upscale, it sometimes leaves an overwhelming burden on both the employer and employee to meet or exceed targets within strict timelines.

Throughout the year, some employers come up with grand ideas that lead to targets that seem unrealistic. Such goals become a huge hurdle and burden when employers do not communicate the purpose, goals and expectations of these targets. While this may not always be the case, the lack of effective communication and clarity is usually been the root cause of many unmet targets. How does each goal contribute to the organizations targets? Why is this specific goal important in the bigger scheme of things? How will everyone benefit from accomplishing this goal? These salient questions need answers. Another overlooked yet critical subject is motivation or the lack thereof. Organizations usually say “our people are our biggest assets”, but is this always the case? In an organization, it will be no surprise to find seventy-five percent (75%) of employees confirming that they are not fully motivated to work towards their organizations goals. A company that wants to succeed must engage its employees. It is only then, that the people will understand what the organization stands for and be eager to produce excellent results.

However meeting targets is not a responsibility that solely rests on the employer. It is quite the opposite, as the employee also plays a critical role in driving high outcomes for the organization.

On the side of the employee, failing to accept and communicate challenges has one way or the other contributed to unmet targets. If things are not where they need to be in the employee’s opinion, they should not sugarcoat it. Instead, they should be open and honest. Similarly, if things are not going as planned, employees should not wait to communicate it at the very last minute. Transparency is key.

In addition, feedback on one’s work and progress is necessary at all times. It helps to get back on track, as mistakes are bound to happen. Employees do themselves a lot of good by asking for help in the form of feedback, instead of focusing on the problem, there’s really nothing to gain from constant fretting.

As a first step to finding out who is really “to blame” for unmet targets we need to think less like a judge and more like a diagnostician. We will need to ask why it happened rather than choosing someone to blame, as that will develop into disappointment, ill-feeling, and aggravation.

To investigate what went wrong in meeting targets, an organization must explore all the gaps and refuel the team’s energy for a better strategy to excel. While at it, managers must not be quick to accept the first few answers, in order to get to the bottom of an under performing team. Yes, it might be that the team is simply not closing enough deals, but with a little more digging, the organization will find the ‘why’ behind the current situation.

Many organizations do not leverage on employee engagement to manage unmet targets. Yet, having employees aligned with the organizations core values, communicating effectively and appreciating the team’s effort even when targets are not being met as expected will go a long way to make progress and eventually, perfection.

The secret to success in the organization is finding out from employees what lights up their work and how that ties into the wider goals of the organization. Engagement is a catalyst to productivity. So the next time you are looking for someone to blame for unmet targets, pause and ask yourself, “Do I really need to point fingers?”

By: Derrick Kwaku Afriyie
HR Reward Project Manager,
Sub Saharan Africa
British Council


  1. Thank you for shaking this table very early in the year 😅
    It has made me more mindful of how I approach my personal goals. Great work!


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