Building Success: The Vital Role of Goal Setting in Construction


In the dynamic world of construction, setting clear and actionable goals can significantly impact the positive growth of a company. When project management is discussed, goals are often an assumed part of the puzzle. For instance, a target budget, completion date or other objectives are often identified before designs even begin.

Goal setting isn’t just for individual projects, but for companies as a whole. Goals guide businesses towards efficiency, quality, and profitability. Essentially, well thought-out goals have the power to impact every aspect of an organization.

Today, we are discussing how goal setting affects businesses as well as how to create an effective strategy for setting useful and appropriate annual objectives.

Results of Goal Setting in Construction

There is countless research on goal setting and what it can help achieve. In fact, according to Positive Psychology, goal setting is linked to higher motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence, and autonomy. Additionally, further research has been completed about the effects of goal setting on organizations, finding that a collaborative goal setting process creates more proactive, productive, and engaged employees. While the effort to set goals may be high, the benefits are substantial. 

1. Impact on Business Operations

Goal setting in construction drives efficient business operations. For example, a goal to adopt new technology can streamline project management, while a target to reduce overhead costs by 15% can lead to smarter budgeting decisions and higher profitability. These goals help in identifying and eliminating inefficiencies, leading to a more profitable business model and informed decision making.

2. Boosting Employee Morale and Productivity

Specific goals give employees a clear sense of direction and purpose. For instance, a goal to achieve zero accidents in the workplace enhances focus on safety protocols, which not only improves safety standards but also shows employees that their well-being is a priority. Similarly, completing internal projects that improve operations within a specific timeline fosters a sense of achievement at completion, boosting morale and enhancing productivity.

3. Community and Environmental Impact

Construction companies greatly influence their communities and the environment. Setting goals like incorporating community feedback into project planning or reducing carbon footprint by 25% through sustainable practices demonstrates corporate responsibility. Not only is it the right thing to do, but sharing these goals can enhance the company’s reputation and foster community trust.

4. Enhancing Client Satisfaction

Client-centric goals are vital for success. For instance, aiming to reduce client complaints by 50% or ensuring 95% of projects are delivered on time directly affects client satisfaction. Achieving these goals can lead to a strong client base and a reputation for reliability and quality.

5. Improving Building Product Quality

The end goal for every individual project is to deliver a high-quality space that is both on time and on budget. Setting overall goals related to continuous improvement in building methods or materials, as well as achieving specific industry certifications can lead to superior building quality. These goals not only enhance the final product but also credibility and a reputation for being a leader in quality construction.

Strategies for Setting Effective Goals

Goals are great, but if the right strategies aren’t attainable, they may fall flat, not only preventing company improvements, but causing employees or outsiders to lose confidence in leadership’s ability to follow-through. There are several strategies that, if utilized, will help ensure that the effort is productive:

1. S.M.A.R.T Goals

Generally speaking, goals should be:

  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Achievable,
  • Relevant and
  • Time-Bound.

For instance, a goal to ‘increase annual revenue by 20% within the next fiscal year through expanding into two new regional markets’ is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

2. Engage Team Members in Goal Setting:

Encouraging departments to set their own goals ensures that they are realistic and that employees agree and buy-in to them. Goals should be relatable and attainable, and if employees set them, they’re often more enthusiastic about making sure they’re achieved. For example, the design team might aim to reduce design turnaround time by 30%, while the procurement team aims to negotiate contracts that reduce material costs by 10%. Both contribute to efficiency for the company overall, even if the way they’re contributing is different.

3. Regular Monitoring and Evaluation:

Implement a review process to track progress against goals at regular intervals. This could be monthly, quarterly or another reasonable time frame. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and make necessary adjustments.

4. Align Goals with Company Vision and Values:

Goals should reflect the company’s broader vision. For instance, if the company values innovation, set goals around adopting new construction technologies or methods. This way, the core values stay intact even while pursuing growth and improvement.

Examples of Well-Structured Goals

Here are a few examples of the types of goals that a construction company might consider. Importantly, goals should always be tailored specifically to each business:

Continuous Learning and Development Goals: Encourage continuous learning by setting goals for employee training and development. This could include a certain number of training hours per employee or achieving specific professional certifications within a specific timeframe. For example, Perlo enacted a goal several years ago that all superintendents, project managers and leadership team members would achieve their OSHA 30 certification within one year.

Client Feedback and Improvement Goals: Regularly gather client feedback and set goals to address any areas of concern. This could include improving communication channels or customizing services to better meet client needs. For example, set a goal to have a particular staff member complete a certain number of client surveys via phone call each year. 

Employee Retention Rate Goals: Set a goal to improve employee retention through the addition of workplace culture events, additional benefits or adding career development opportunities. Goals like these should include feedback from existing employees as well as HR staff or even specialized consultants to verify that they will enhance employee retention.

Technological Advancement Goals: Set a goal to adopt new construction technologies, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) or 3-D printing within a certain time frame.

Green Building Practices: Set a goal to commit to increasing the number of projects that attain green building certifications, such as LEED, The Living Building Challenge or others. Alternatively, a goal related to employee certifications, such as LEED accreditation, might be appropriate.

Financial Goals: Goals can be related to volume, profit margins or cost-savings measures. For example, a goal may be to increase revenue by 10% during the next fiscal year.

Final Thoughts

Goal setting is essential for the growth and success of any company, including those in construction. They can positively influence operations, employee satisfaction, the community, clients, and product quality. By adopting strategic goal-setting practices, construction firms can more easily navigate industry challenges and pave the way for sustained success.