Editorial: Goal Setting in the Meat and Poultry Processing Industry

The New Year is a wonderful time to identify and map out goals in your business.
By Abbey Davidson, AAMP Outreach Specialist

We made it through 2023, whew! And as the new year unfolds, businesses within the meat and poultry processing industry have a prime opportunity to set goals for the 2024 calendar year. It is a wonderful time to identify and map out goals in your business. Goal setting is not an exercise without merit, but an incredibly important process that can drive growth, increase productivity, and push a business toward the desired future.

The beginning of a year (or getting a jump start in December) is a perfect time to reflect on the months past and forecast the next round. There are many reasons for this. Defining direction by establishing clear goals for employees and management is incredibly understated. If you don't know where you are headed, it's rather hard to get anywhere. Further, team motivation seems to be a bigger and bigger daily time eater, and being able to direct employees back to goals, establish milestones to get to those goals, and establish rewards for reaching those goals can help your organization succeed. Also, being able to measure your progress within a year, and then comparing each year to each other, is vital business information for growth. Finally, enhancing focus by defining goals can help streamline efforts, reduce redundancy and confusion, and increase efficiency. We all know how important efficiency is on the processing floor.

To ensure robust goals are being developed, the tried-and-true criteria is to utilize the SMART method. This is an acronym to identify goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. So, when setting goals, it's wise to go down the letters in the acronym and ensure the goal is precise and quantifiable, attainable, jive with the overall mission of the business, and can be done in a timely manner. If you wanted to take it a step further, there is the SMART-ER method, where the ER stands for Evaluate and Revise. This means ensuring that the goals can be reviewed and altered if needed, as visions and missions and priorities can change.

Examples of business goals are financial, operational efficiency, food safety, market expansion, employee retention, among others. It is wise to brainstorm what direction you would like your business to head, then identify realistic goals that will help you get there. However, focusing on too many at a time can lead to burnout and lack of direction. Concentrating on the highest priority goals to move your business forward is going to set you up for success. You may want to focus on getting ozone as a sanitation measure in your facility. You may want to focus on making benefits available to your employees. Maybe kick out a new product line. Maybe move your business to full electronic record keeping.

As we embark into the New Year, goal setting and the power behind it should not be underestimated. One day of goal setting may set you up for success over the next 365 days. Whatever your goals, the AAMP staff are here to help you reach them. We look forward to 2024 and what the New Year will bring!