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As a manager you will frequently have to set goals for both your team and yourself. Some of these may be short-term goals and may begin instantly and need to be completed in a few days. Others may be long-term goals and can take more than a year to accomplish.
Regardless of the duration of the goal, it is important for you to be able to set effective goals for your team and for yourself.
What is a goal? ‘A goal is a statement of specific-work related achievement to be accomplished within a specified time frame.’
Goals can be related to:
- Routine or Normal Output
- They can be problem-solving goals e.g. Increasing quality scores
- Or they can be innovative goals e.g. To design a new product or software
Goals should be written keeping in mind the acronym SMART, which means that they should be:
- Time Bound
Tips & Strategies for Goal Setting
Over the next couple of pages we will look at each letter of the acronym SMART in order to understand how to set goals. We will also talk about what a manager should do when setting goals with his or her team.
A specific goal is clear and unambiguous. It is not vague and tells an employee exactly what is expected, by when and by how much. When goals are specific, it is easy to measure the amount of progress made towards achieving the goal.
Write the goal using action words like ‘to design, or to create…’. Make sure that there is a definition of how and what needs to be done, by when, written so that there is a clear understanding of what is required.
A goal is no good unless it can be measured in some way. If you cannot measure the goal, then you will never know how much progress has been made towards the goal. It is also difficult for your employees to stay motivated if they are not able to see how much progress they have made and how much of the journey is left.
Examples of measures you can use:
- Behaviour—in terms of observable action
- Quantity— amount or number
- Cycle time
The goals that you set with your employees must seem both realistic and attainable to them. Goals should not be too extreme, your employee may need to step a bit out of their comfort zone but not completely. A goal should ideally neither be too high or too low, your employee should strain a bit to achieve it, however you don’t want them to have a nervous breakdown.
You should also check to see if:
- They have the authority to achieve the goal
- They have the resources to achieve the goal
- They have an environment that supports them
The employee must feel that the goal is relevant to either the team or company’s mission and vision. The goal itself must also be relevant to either the mission or vision of the team or of the company. Take a long-term view of the goal, a goal is relevant if it in someway affects either the investor, customer or employee satisfaction of a company.
5. T– Time Bound
Just like a good trip, a goal must have a start and end point and a fixed duration in which it needs to be achieved. Deadlines help employees commit to achieving the goal and a goal without a timeframe is likely to never be achieved at all.
You can either set a specific date, a milestone on the calendar or tie the completion of the goal to another relevant activity in order to make it time bound.
6. The six steps of goal setting
Here is a six step process to guide you through the task of setting goals with your team.
- Begin with a vision: this could be a vision of what the team looks like, or the company’s vision, or even the employees personal vision for himself.
- Write SMART goals: Using the guidelines we have already described, together with your team member write out SMART goals that will help the vision become a reality.
- Set Objectives: For each goal, set objectives or what needs to be achieved.
- Identify Tasks: Identify all the tasks that need to be done to achieve each objective. This helps the employee understand how and what they need to do to achieve success.
- Establish Timelines: Though you may have an overall time frame for the achievement of the goal, you will also need to establish timelines for each of the tasks that need to be completed. This way you can have a series of milestones for the employee to complete, which is very useful especially if this is a long-term goal.
- Follow—Up: While you may trust the employee to complete the goal in the best possible way, it makes better sense to establish a review mechanism or a schedule of follow up, this keeps your employees committed to their goals, it helps you to solve any roadblocks that may arises and also allows you to evaluate if they are on track or not.
Last but not least, make sure that you decide and set these goals together with your employee to maximize commitment and buy-in rather than just telling them to do it.