Setting Goals

Easier than it sounds.Goals

Setting organization goals is something I have seen even the best and brightest leaders struggle to develop over the past 15 years.  What tends to happen is that the process and formulas become so cumbersome and nuanced that even the goal writers themselves hardly understand what has been captured.  At Employee Strategies, we have a few truisms—one of which, is an Einstein quote, “If you can’t explain it to a 6 year-old, you don’t understand it yourself. “

Our lesson learned:  Keep it simple.

What are the ideal goals for your organization? The answer resides in the power of focus.  In sports we have very identifiable goals like winning the World Series. But at work, winning isn’t always that clear.  Many times, the leaders go on retreat and come back with what they believe to be the best path.  The game of Telephone Operator starts to dilute the goal message the minute the team leaves the retreat.

Our lesson learned: Consistent & clear communication on results is vital.

What do good goals look like?  Take a look at NASA and the space program.  In 1961, President Kennedy set a goal to send a man to the moon and return him safely before the end of the decade.  On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped off that lunar lander, right on to the Moon’s surface. Kennedy’s goal setting was far more detailed than his predecessor.  Eisenhower set what he called a goal, but was really more a strategic intent—To Be the Leader in Space Exploration.

Our lesson learned: Strategic Direction is easy, but goal setting is far more difficult and far more impactful!

There are five basic steps to setting successful goals, using the acronym S.M.A.R.T. as the framework for setting measurable goals that can be understood and shared across a whole team.

1. Simply Specific

Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do.  Specific is the what, why, and how of the S.M.A.R.T. model.
Example:  We will increase new product revenue

2. Measurable

Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. Determine the number you want to hit.
Example: We will increase new product revenue 20%

3. Attainable

Goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough so that you can achieve them.
Example: We will increase new product revenue 20%  (we know that last year, we saw a 10% increase in new product revenue and with greater market exposure, a spike in 10% makes this goal attainable, but not easy). 

4. R-Relevant

The goal should detail how it’s going to advance your organization.
Example: We will increase new product revenue 20%—does this goal hook itself to a Strategic Direction of developing new products, emerging into new regions or does it stand-alone? 

5. T – Time Bound

Goals should be linked to a timeframe, like a specific date or time of year that creates a practical sense of urgency.
Example: We will increase new product revenue 20% by 12.31.2013

I hope these practical steps make a difference in your organization’s goal setting season.  Watch this 3-minute sketch video about S.M.A.R.T. goals:

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