How can I deliver on unrealistic numbers?

How can I deliver on unrealistic numbers?

My financial targets are set by management  — and they’re unrealistic at best. Regardless though, I’m still expected to deliver. How can I handle this? G.G., Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, your situation is not unique. Have a conversation sooner rather than later with your manager in order to appropriately manage expectations. Don’t expect that this conversation will change your profitability targets, though, because that decision may not be your manager’s to make. At this point, you want to clearly and concisely provide your manager with your reasoning. Doing so early in the process will allow him/her to either make adjustments or inform their manager.

Gather the facts that support your assertion that the target is unrealistic, including past performance, available resources, industry dynamics, and anything that would affect your ability to deliver. Bring a realistic forecast with supporting documentation to the meeting. Brainstorm what actions or resources would allow you to close the gap between your forecast and the target you’ve been given. Now you’re ready to have the conversation.

Your goal is to create a problem-solving meeting where you share your ideas for closing the gap. This will help illustrate your point, that the original forecast is unrealistic, without actually saying so. You don’t have all the information regarding how the target was chosen, so it’s best to stay neutral and non-judgmental; instead, focus on bringing expectations to a more reasonable level…or obtaining the resources to deliver the original target. Good luck!