I have posted in the past on how establishing good service levels for your website might be a good idea, but if you have no idea how to achieve the goals you are setting for yourself, you are wasting your time and paper. In fact, this goes for any business (or personal!) goal. Let’s look at what it takes to achieve a truly high level of service for a website:
1) a reliable web server
2) reliable power for the web server
3) reliable physical location for the web server
4) reliable network connection to the web server
5) failover capability in the event that the web server fails
6) reliable backups in case the server crashes
7) physical colocation of servers in the event that one server site is damaged in a disaster
8) multiple network connections in the event that a network connection fails
9) personnel who are experts on each individual component of your website (available 24/7)
and so on, and so on…
See what I mean? Unless you have the budget and manpower to support a 99.999% uptime, you are wasting paper if you set that as your SLA goal. In fact, if your business falls too far short of the goal or the goal sounds too unrealistic to your people, then I guarantee that eventually your staff will become pessimistic about it. The uptime will become an unhappy point with them, an inside joke in your company, and it will tarnish the reputation of anyone who was foolish enough to sign off on it.
This line of thinking applies to other goals in your company as well. It is important to think high and stretch your people. Challenges make your people stronger. They make your company better. If you are not stretching your people, you may risk your competitive edge. Setting too unrealistic goals, however, will simply set your people up for failure- and they will remember you for it. Being set up for failure is demotivating.
For that matter, setting too many ’stretch’ goals is just as bad if not worse than setting one unrealistic goal. Your people will get sick of every single win being a struggle to the finish. They will start to whisper things like “Who does he think we are?” and “Sure, just pile on more to the load, I’m stretched too far now anyway!”. Do you want to be thought of that way by the people you lead? Or, to be more specific, do you think your people will follow someone who they think these things of?
Never set goals that you or the people you manage do not have the resources- time, money or otherwise- to reach. Stretching is good for your business. Jumping off cliffs without a parachute is not. Others can see whether or not your goals are reachable given the resources available. Your people may see this as lack of respect for them (”He thinks we’re miracle workers!”), lack of ability to plan (”He doesn’t care how many hours we work!”), or a lack of knowledge (”Doesn’t he know that can’t be done with what we have?”). They will mistake it for incompetence, and your credibility with your people will take a huge hit that your ability to lead them may never recover from.