If you are in a leadership position, your goal should to improve your team daily. This is accomplished both as a group, and with one team member at a time. So, as leaders, we should ask ourselves daily:

  • What have I done to improve the team today?
  • Would the team have done as well without me today?

Improvement begins with effective goal setting. So, to set an effective goal, you must analyze what activities impact the goal and follow up daily.

Setting Your Goals

Let’s define goal setting as directing an individual or group’s behavior. It should be a written statement with clearly described activities and a measurable result.

Are you a manager? Do you set and review goals with your team daily? I’ve been involved in more corporate team and individual goal setting sessions than I want to remember. Because, many of them were a waste of time, and I knew they were, until I learned a few keys to successful goal setting.

Goal setting directs behavior, not results. Although the goal must focus on measurable objective criteria, activities achieve goals. Goals should include:

  • An activities plan
  • Clearly defined objectives

Over the years, when I’ve asked team members how they’ll hit their goals. I’ve often heard something like, “I’ll do better, I’ll work harder, or I’ll do more”. The smart aleck in me always wants to ask why they weren’t already working harder, doing better, or doing more. DO NOT accept these non-specific generalized answers. Follow up with open-ended questions such as:

  • What will you do better?
  • How will you do it?
  • How will you work harder?

Are SMART Goals Smart?

I believe what is missing from SMART goals or SMARTER goals, and many other goal formulas — is focus on activities. The lack of focus causes the goal setter to create goals without a plan to achieve them. Although degree of difficulty, time limits, measurability, conditions, objective criteria, etc., should be discussed — it will be difficult to achieve the goal without a clear plan of activities needed to reach the goal.

  • What activities should be repeated?
  • How can activities be improved?
  • What needs to be discontinued?
  • Where is help needed?
  • What activities need changed?
  • What activities should be renewed (successful activities previously performed)?

Work the Activities

When I was in a position of managing managers, I asked a young team leader how the previous month’s goals had progressed. In great detail, he enthusiastically showed me his team’s improvements. He explained the activities, which helped them improve, and since they were connected to financial incentives, he also disclosed their monetary gains. After congratulating him and the team, I asked about the current month’s goals (we were four or five days into the new month). The team leader had not “got to it” yet.

My point is, don’t get away from activities that work. The most important goal setting activity may be defining, analyzing, and setting activities. When you set goals with activities, you can discuss activities every day, not only the results. Yes, we may learn from results, but they’re history, and we must know what activities led to the results if we wish to improve.

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash