What does it mean for a shop to set meaningful goals?

Every journey needs a destination, and every business needs direction to grow and change. Moreover, to be intrinsically motivated rather than reactionary, shops need an amount of autonomy, a path to mastery, and a sense of overarching purpose that goes beyond the immediate product of their labor. From the production floor to the business plan, setting meaningful goals keeps you moving forward.

For a machine operator, this might include the apparent production targets or reduced error margins but extend to:

  • Acquisition of a new skill
  • Operation of a broader range of equipment
  • Increased understanding of digitizing
  • Anything that expands horizons and increases the potential ability to solve problems and make decisions

The demonstration of these goals should come with leeway within the demands of the production schedule. For example, a salesperson may have sales targets but could also become familiar with new product lines or promotional tactics or exploring a new avenue for lead acquisition. Though they need boundaries within which to work, those guidelines should allow room to experiment, and their goals should challenge them to expand.

Allowing employees time to self-educate and license to try out new ideas is key to their personal growth, but it’s not quite enough to drive the company. Businesses need goals, and though it’s easy to answer to profit, that alone can’t define your company’s arc.

It’s entirely apt to look at last year’s sales and efficiency and look to beat those numbers, but that should serve a higher principle that guides your decisions and gives everyone a sense of purpose. This doesn’t mean that you have to pick a social cause or become a nonprofit, but it does mean that you should have more to your long-term goals than higher numbers. Start thinking bigger. Define what you want your company to look like at the end of this year, next year, and the end of five years. What would you like to be known for? What kind of growth is most important to you? What is the result that increased sales or

faster production will support? Distill a reason for doing the work and define the character that sets your shop apart from the rest. With that in mind, go back to the numbers and measurements.

Make sure that short-term goals and the things you track contribute to the overarching purpose and character of your shop. Communicate the purpose to staff and customers, and be clear about the milestones along the way so that you and your employees can contribute and see progress throughout the year to come.


Allee Bruce

Alexandria Bruce

Alexandria Bruce is the former managing editor of GRAPHICS PRO magazine.

View all articles by Alexandria Bruce  

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