Unrealistic Goal Setting Leads to a Culture of Fraud
Why setting smaller goals will lead to success
In 1852 Wells Fargo was founded by Henry Wells and William Fargo, originally as a delivery company of sorts, and has evolved into one of the largest banking institutions in the United States. A company built on hard work, honesty and integrity has seen its reputation tarnished beyond some of the fake silver bars that were hawked as authentic silver produced by Wells Fargo in the 1960’s.
Wells Fargo has now been relegated as nothing but a fraudulent institution no better than faceless identity thieves stealing peoples personal information. Thousands of unsuspecting consumers have had accounts opened in their names without their consent in an effort to prove to Wall Street that the bank was doing good things. When in fact, it was the complete opposite.
Employees from the top down knowingly opened accounts, moved money, and even incurred fees in consumers’ names which hurt their credit. The dust has yet to settle and this is just the beginning, as the Senate Banking Committee I’m sure, will expand their investigation to include other banking institutions.
Why am I writing about this? This far reaching fraudulent activity was created by one thing, and it wasn’t greed. It was created by a culture that set unrealistic goals. By setting unrealistic goals and holding everyone to goals that were beyond a stretch, employees all the way from bank tellers to the CEO were forced create fake customer accounts.
Well, they weren’t actually fake. They were and are real people, with real lives and real families. Today while watching the hearing before the Senate Banking committee, the dollar amount as far as damage can’t even be speculated due to the fact that quantifying how someone’s credit was damaged from these fake accounts will take time to figure out. But, I will guarantee you it’s in the billions.
Too many companies lack the understanding of realistic goal setting. By setting these unattainable goals, Wells Fargo employees were pressured and even directed to do whatever it takes to show good numbers, including defrauding customers, stockholders and the American public.
Most goal setting experts set goals up in three tiers: the baseline goal, the mid-level goal and the stretch goal. Everyone is expected to hit the mid-level goal. However, companies, managers and “sales” trainers always preach about hitting the stretch goal and how good it will be for the individual and the company.
Wells Fargo became so obsessed with these stretch goals that employees were pushed too far. Employees were left with very few choices; quit, get fired or commit fraud. The incentives or consequences were too great for most people to quit. The employees all have families and bills to pay and they need to live, so they pushed beyond even their own moral codes.
I have always taught and lived my life based on setting small micro-goals and compounding on them over time. My latest book 5% More is all about these small baby steps. I show how these small progressive steps achieve results even higher than the stretch goals set by so called “goal setting experts”. The next time you are tasked with setting a goal, whether it be for yourself or your employees, set smaller, more realistic, more achievable goals and compound on them month after month. This is not creating a culture of underachievers, this is creating a culture of successful, happy and motivated people who will achieve more than you thought.