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Goal Setting: 5 Steps to Drive Better Results

By Tiffany Chepul

    Tue, Jul 30, 2019 @ 11:02 AM Strategy Execution, Accountable Leaders & Teams

    Goal setting is both a skill and an art. Whether you are new to the goal-setting game, or a seasonedgoal setting pro, there is always room for improvement.

    When writing goals, use these 5 steps to drive better results.

    Step 1: Write your goal and keep it simple

    Start by writing your goal in a clear, action-oriented way. It should start with a verb and state exactly what you are going to do and by when. Let’s start with one example and work it through the 5 steps.

    Example Goal: Hire and train 20 new sales reps by end of September

    Step 2: Set your success criteria and leave nothing up to interpretation

    Each goal you write should also have clear Red-Yellow Green success criteria. Green is success. Red is failure. Yellow is a range between the two. SuperGreen is your stretch goal.

    Example Goal: Hire and train 20 new sales reps by end of September

    SuperGreen: 20 sales reps trained & operating independently

    Green: 20 sales reps hired & training in progress

    Yellow: Any scenario between Green and Red

    Red: Less than 16 reps hired

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    Step 3: Align vertically and horizontally

    Think about how your goal impacts others. What you are doing should be aligned with your Company and your Team. Also, if you need support to accomplish your goal from other departments, it should be discussed during your planning session. Make sure you can get the resources you need to complete your priority successfully.

    Consider: Who will you need help from to complete this priority? Does someone on your team need a supporting priority to help with interviewing and training? Do you need help from another department (in this case, HR) and are they aligned on your timeframe and success criteria? Do they have the bandwidth to help?

    Step 4: Record milestone Actions and visualize successful execution

    Think through what execution looks like on your goal. Record a few milestone actions, including the owner and due dates. There should be at least 3 Actions, but feel free to add more if it’s helpful.

    Example Goal: Hire and train 20 new sales reps by end of September

    Due 7/15: Post Job Description online and pool resumes (John)

    Due 8/15: Conduct interviews & make offers (Jane)

    Due 9/5: Training and onboarding begins (Sue)

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    Step 5: Status your goal weekly and make adjustments

    Success of every goal depends on strong weekly execution. You have to keep moving the ball forward every week. Pick a status color for your goal each week based on your best forecast. Is it on track to being Green by your due date? Have you hit roadblocks and think it will end up Yellow or Red by your due date? You are the advocate for your goal. If the goal needs help to get unstuck, you are accountable for getting it the resources it needs. If your goal is Yellow or Red, make sure it gets discussed at your team’s weekly meeting. As a team, come up with a plan to get it back on track to Green.

    Example Goal: Hire and train 20 new sales reps by end of September

    Weekly status for 7/29: Green - job description is posted, we are getting great resumes and interviews have started.

    Weekly status for 8/12: Red - Interviews have netted only 13 accepted offers. HR, can you help with some additional recruiting?

    Weekly status for 9/7: Yellow - we have 17 hired who are currently in training. Hoping to hear back from 4 more offers by 9/15, but no guarantees.

    Weekly status for 9/20: Green - we have 20 hired and in process with training. Thanks everyone for the help!

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    Following this goal setting process will increase your likelihood of successfully achieving your goals - whether they are MBOs, OKRs, Annual Initiatives, Quarterly Priorities, or even your personal goals. Solid execution of your goals comes down to starting with clear expectations, ensuring alignment, breaking the goal down into action steps, practicing weekly accountability, and making adjustments to achieve success. We've tested this process with hundreds of thousands of goals executed by our clients in the Rhythm software, and it is a proven formula for success.


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    Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images