The conflict between long-term goals and short-term goals is one of a series of short blogs in response to questions asked at the seminar on performance management run by TimelessTime at the Let’s Do Business show in Hastings.
One very common criticism that managers will level at any goal setting system is that goals associated with personal development and organisational development are at odds with short-term goals such as turnover and profit. To an extent this is true but of course ultimately the long-term quickly moves to become the short-term. This illustrates that both are essential in any firm.
This split in goal type comes from the idea that short-term goals associated with the success of the firm in the current year are somehow of higher priority than the longer term developmental goals. The split comes also from the fact that often short-term goals are more quantitative and objective and hence easier to perceive and measure. If the split is to be avoided management must clearly link each, showing that the long-term development goals, if achieved, will ease achievement of next year’s short-term goals. Management must show that it is in no one’s interest to focus on the short-term at the expense of the long-term.
From the employee’s perspective, short term goals are easier to perceive and possibly easier to achieve. This means that employees are naturally more inclined to focus on the short-term. They need to be encouraged to look to the long-term and this comes from a company wide long-term orientation. Many British companies have the reverse – they have a short-term orientation demanding profits and dividends today rather than long-term success over a number of years.
So it is for management to resolve this conflict through their own expressed orientation.