Backward Planning: Setting and Reflecting on Goals

Setting and reflecting on goals (2)

No objective is achieved without goal setting and reflecting on progress.

As a manager or freelancer organizing your business goals you will need to achieve many goals, be them: sales targets, increasing team productivity or improving client satisfaction to name but a few. A key component to achieving objectives is visualizing your goals, imagining what that success looks and feels like. Thereafter you should do backward planning, working out what specifically you have to do to achieve a goal by a set time period.  To do backward planning, you need to place your goal at the end with its deadline date and then work backwards, calculating 5-10 sub targets that will be required to be achieved in set moments in order to take you to your final goal. Normally if your target were to be achieved within a year, you would set sub targets to be achieved either every month or second month and should work backwards until arriving back at what you need to do today! Good backward planning is all about influencing your actions you do each and everyday.

Backward planning is when you place your goal at the end and work backwards putting down sub targets, until you get back to what you should do today.

Each stage goal should have the following:

  • A sub-goal date
  • Tangible way to assess the goal by the set time frame. Ideally a numerical one, like number of sales.
  • Non-tangible things to reflect on in that moment that may effect meeting future targets. For example staff motivation levels, machinery conditions etc…

Once you have your backward plan, it may be necessary for you, or for your team members, to make further backward plans for their specific parts in achieving the overall objective.

Each sub target, must have: target date, numerical goal to be achieved and non tangible points to be reflected on.

The goal setting of a backward plan must be backed up by reflecting in each target moment on how you are doing. Reflecting should involve an analysis of why you did or did not achieve your target by that date. If you didn’t achieve your target, you should be working out what factors got in your way and then re-plan accordingly in order to prevent a re-occurrence. If you could prevent those factors effecting your next target, take action now as a good plan influences what you do today. Likewise if you achieved your target or more than it, make sure to analyze why that happened, as the factors that helped you, or your team, be more productive are things you want to plan in to deliberately repeat.

If you don’t achieve a target, stop and reflect on why and then take action and replan.

Simple technological tools to help you reflect in the set sub target moments are critical. A simple one is a self-made google survey form, set up to go out before the targets dates to yourself and/or your team members. This form should ask the filler in to record how they are doing with their numerical goals but also more importantly asking them to reflect on why or why not they are on target and to give feedback on the non-tangible elements so that nothing will come as a surprise. A great manager will review these forms and look for trends that might require action or attention in order to keep the team on track and, as needed, re plan.

Ask your team to reflect on both numerical goals and non tangible factors too

So from here on, if you want to be a great manager, of a team or of yourself, who achieves your goals, implement backward planning and ensure you reflect on why or why not you are achieving your targets. By good backward planning, make sure your targets have a relevancy to the actions you do each and everyday, align them with your success lists. Most importantly, don’t just make it a task – something you do – rather make sure it as something your see as key to achieving your ends goals and aim to get any team members to embrace it in the same way.

Implement backward planning and set reflection moments.


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