Goal setting, when done reliably and consistently, is a great mechanism to help realise an organisation’s strategy. Goals help to translate the strategy into something more tangible and significantly more deliverable.
“The significance of a man is not in what he attains but in what he longs to attain.” [Khalil Gibran]
Why Set Goals?
In the 1960’s Locke’s work on goal setting and motivation gave us the foundation to the popular discipline of Goal Setting. In 1990 Lock and Latham published “A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance” where they repeated Locke’s view on the need to set specific and difficult goals which push people towards their desired attainment. The harder to achieve the goal the harder you will work towards its achievement. Michelangelo once famously said that “the greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark” – so what is your Sistine Chapel for 2017? – what is your BHAG [Big Hairy Audacious Goal]? Colin McGregor says it nicely when he states that if your goals don’t scare you they are not big enough.
Provides Focus and Direction
Goals provide focus and direction. If your company strategy is to grow, goals will translate that aim into more specific objectives to achieve. Business growth may be translated into raising revenue by 10% or reducing costs by 5%. When you are clearer about what it is you want to achieve it is a lot easier to achieve it. Yet we are complex human beings that do more than work, we often have to combine that with personal and family aspirations and goals to live a “well lived life, in well led companies”.
Sample Simplex Goal Setting ©Margaret Considine
These can be improved by making them SMART
Setting goals across these three interdependent realms of our lives can help us manage the interdependencies between the three – if I am personally trying to finish my MBA and give a weekend up of time with the children to do that or miss an afternoon’s golf classic with clients, then I do so in the full knowledge that I ‘controlled’ the choice and prioritisation of multiple goals.
Aids Planning and Tracking
Once the goal is in place, you can then set about planning how you are going to achieve it. If I need to grow revenue by 10% that will mean I need ten new customers and in order to gain ten more customers I need to create 100 new meetings this month. Whatever your targets may be, your goals help you to make a plan, to break it down into manageable tasks that you can track at regular intervals.
How to Set Goals?
According to Locke and Latham principles there are five principles that will improve your chances of success when Goal Setting.
Clarity is the key to success when it comes to goal
s setting. Whether the goal is something that only you can work towards, or a goal for your whole team, the clearer you are about the required outcome, the greater your chances of success. Clarity ensures no time is wasted in the pursuit of the wrong objectives. SMART Goals can help to gain more clarity, helping you make the goal more Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. Making sure your team are clear about the organisational goals will also help to motivate them towards a bigger purpose.
People are motivated by challenging goals, but it is also important not to set goals that are too difficult to achieve as this will have the opposite effect. Think about how you can inspire your team to stretch themselves. How can you create healthy competition or motivation for a reward once the goal is achieved? Make sure your challenging goals are realistic as you do not want to set your team up for failure and risk demotivating them.
In order to gain commitment towards goals it is a good idea to allow your team to set their own goals, According to Dan Pink, author of Drive, the surprising truth about what motivates us; ” Autonomy is one of our chief motivational factors. If employees feel they have freedom over their goals and these goals are in alignment with the organisational goals it will be a win win for all.”
Once you have selected the right goals together, it is important to both listen to and give regular feedback. Give your team members feedback that is objective and useful. Listen to their feedback and adjust the goals’ complexity if necessary. Setting goals should be a dynamic process, one that is adjusted when required.
5. Task Complexity
It is important to make sure that your employees are sufficiently trained to take on complex goals. A training needs analysis could help to ensure all the necessary skills are present to undertake the task. Keep regular checks and adjust tasks if they appear too complex.
When you take all of these areas into account, goal setting can become a powerful medium for realising the vision and strategy of an organisation and personal achievement. Goals can give you better awareness as to where you are now and what you need to achieve. With this better awareness you can make better choices, and better choices always lead to better results.
We largely find ourselves living in a world we later realise we largely helped create.
Shape your 2017.
Margaret Considine is CEO of EQuita Consulting.
EQuita Consulting are global experts in delivering Executive Education, Strategic Consulting and Workplace solutions. With specialist expertise in Commercial Negotiation, Mediation, Conflict & Dispute Resolution, Bullying & Harassment Investigations and Personal Productivity.
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