Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Goal Setting

As we head towards the fourth quarter of 2010, we’re hopeful for a better 2011 and, if you haven’t started doing so already will begin mapping out our plans for our businesses and team members for next year.  It’s the time of year to meet with our teams and begin planning for the next one to two years and beyond.  It’s an important and sizeable task businesses face each and every year however many don’t have a framework for how to go about establishing a strategic plan and/or individual goal setting.  This article will focus on how to go about individual goal setting for each of your key management members.  Once you have a plan and direction for your business, it’s important to have all key members of management structure personal goals in order for the company to achieve its objectives as well as the individual having a better defined road map for success.  I hope to provide some insights and ideas about how to go about doing just that in a meaningful and effective way.

A widely used methodology for structuring goals is referred to as the “SMART” method.  SMART is an acronym for the following words: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.  One of the “dirtiest” words in the English language is “accountability”.  We are all comfortable having others be accountable however when it comes to our own performance, being accountable isn't always so comfortable.  I believe it’s this concept that often times leads to vague, non-quantifiable, subjective goal setting that is generally the norm when people are asked to create goals.  The SMART method, when applied properly, will mitigate (if not eliminate) the “softness” of the goals being set.

Specific…in order to understand what it is that one is looking to achieve, or what is being asked of someone, it must be specific and clear.  The stated objective should be concise and clearly understood by both the individual tasked with meeting the objective as well as the individual that person reports to.

Measurable…generally some element of quantification.

Achievable…if a goal is not achievable then it’s not a goal, it’s a pipedream.  Intelligent people generally don’t waste energy chasing pipedreams.

Relevant…is the goal relevant to the furthering of the company’s overall stated objectives?  Does the goal make sense within the overall business?  Is that goal being pursued by others already thereby making this person’s efforts in achieving the very same goal irrelevant?

Time-Bound…when will the goal be achieved?  The timeliness of the achievement of the goal will obviously have a bearing on the success of the overall organization as well as the individual.  As importantly, setting a deadline for achieving a goal creates both an urgency in achieving it as well as communicating when success is expected.  Further it provides a timeline against which the individual can benchmark his or her path towards success.

There are generally a handful of areas within a business that people must be successful and proficient in order for the business to do well.  These areas include Sales and Marketing, Operations, Financial Management, Training, Leadership, etc.  Creating these categories and establishing goals within each category, using the SMART method discussed above, will provide a good framework for your goal setting process. 

Good luck with your strategic planning and goal-setting as we head towards 2010Q4!!!