The minimum target for Mikel Arteta this season was a return to Europa League football through a top 6 finish.
Following victory over West Ham, that target has been achieved.
Now at this point, some of you will be moaning about “having a target of top 6th is lower mentality” and that “the target should be to win the league”. Those saying it probably do not understand how targets are set and the methodology behind them.
The most commonly used tool to set targets is SMART objectives.
Targets should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
“For 2021/22, Arsenal’s minimum target is a top 6 finish”.
That objective clearly fits into all 5 SMART criteria.
Arsenal should be aiming to win the league, but that is a target set in the longer term.
We have just finished 8th twice in a row and have not finished top 4 since 2016.
The middle criteria of SMART is “achievable”. The target must be something that is attainable. Is a realistic outcome.
To jump from 8th to 1st – with the 5th highest wage bill in the league – is clearly an unachievable outcome; and therefore does not fit the SMART criteria.
“Then our target should have been top 4”.
Again, you hear this from people who have never set, or been set, targets.
People are often set two targets.
The first is the minimum target, which is exactly what it says on the top – a minimum expectation.
With us having the 5th highest wage bill, and with the investment we have had in transfers over the last few years, top 6 should always be the minimum target.
Infact, or minimum target should actually be top 5 considering the wages factor. But with those two 8th place finishes, top 6 was reasonable enough.
Now once a minimum target has been established, we then usually discuss a “stretch target”.
Stretch targets are used to motivate people to exceed their minimum target.
It would usually go along the lines of “hit your minimum target and you are safe in your job. Hit your stretch target and you get a pay rise and/or promotion.
Arteta’s stretch target wild have been too 4.
To go from 8th to 6th would have been acceptable performance. From 8th to 4th will have been an exceptional performance.
So we have achieved our minimum target for the season and are on course to hit our stretch target.
And then next season we will see new targets set.
If we make top 4 this season, then expect our minimum target to be top 5 (taking into account that 5th places wage bill). A stretch target could then be to mount a title challenge – or perhaps finish top 3.
As time goes on and we re-establish ourselves as a top 4 regular, revenue and expenditure will begin to increase. And as a result what our minimum target for a season is will also increase.
So well done Arteta. Minimum target hit. Now let’s get top 4 and move forward again next season.