Leadership Tip: Setting Goals (be SMART)

tip tuesday

Tip Tuesday 

If you are reading this blog at the start of the new year, there’s likely one blaring message permeating throughout your organization right now…”It’s time to set goals for the year!”  For some, it’s a welcome moment to reset and create a plan for the year.  For others, it is an unwelcome taunt to make a plan.  

Wherever you sit on this continuum, the reality is that setting goals are a crucial moment for you as a leader to declare a game plan for you and your team.  This is your moment to plant the flag in the ground of what you expect the team to accomplish this year. Setting this direction will give people a sense of what to expect for the year.  

So, the tip of the week is to embrace goal setting for what it will do for you and your team.  Think of it as your team’s GPS.  Since this is such an important moment, below are several tips to make the best use of goals as a leader:

Create goals that have a clear link to the company’s larger, strategic goals. 

Team members are inspired when they see that their work is moving the needle for the entire company’s work.  So, look for ways to show how the work matters more broadly to the company’s goals. Also, keep in mind that you’re modeling the behavior that you expect from your team. Make sure they reflect what you expect from them. Be SMART!

 You’ve likely heard this acronym shared during the goal-setting season.  It helps you set goals that are actionable and make sense to you, your team, and those evaluating you at the end of the year.  SMART stands for:

Specific – What is the specific (find a different word) thing you will do?  Be sure not to speak in general terms.  Remember, you are planting your flag in the ground.  So, where are you planting it?  It’s a specific spot, not a general area.  

Measurable – Is the goal written in a way that your boss, or whoever will evaluate you, can measure whether you accomplished it? If not, back to the drawing board. What should they focus on to measure you at the end of the year?

Actionable; Is this goal written in a way that shows you will accomplish?  This is not the time to write conceptually.  Think “what action will I take that can be evaluated at the end of the year to share that I accomplished this goal?”  

Realistic; Is it possible to accomplish this goal within the year?  Are there resources associated with completing this goal that has not been secured?  Think about whether you have the budget, human capital, technology, etc. to do this?  Be sure to write the goal at the scale of your reality. This is not the time to dream big and say “If I had all the money and people in the world, I would do this.” Remember, at the end of the year you will be evaluated against your goals. .  So, write them based on your reality – not your dream!

Timely; When will this goal be completed?  How will someone know if you met the goal or not if there is no “finish line” or time boundary to it?   Will it be completed by the end of June? November?  Whatever it is, state it in the goal so it is clear when to expect it.  

By ensuring your goals are SMART and aligned to the company’s strategic goals, you will set you and your team up to have a clear plan for the year’s work. 

Before you go, share this post with another leader who is in the midst of goal-setting!

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