Goal Setting for Managers: A Guide to Goal Setting

By Ted Skinner

Manager's Guide to Goal Setting

dateMon, Aug 29, 2022 @ 06:00 AM

Use the SMART Goals Framework

The SMART goals framework helps you set realistic goals that are measurable, attainable, relevant, specific, timely, and trackable. Many successful people across all industries use this framework to achieve success. These apply to individual, team, and company goals. Using this proven framework helps you reach your goals faster. For a goal to be SMART, it must be a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goal-setting process.

Specific Goal

Be as specific and straightforward as possible when setting your goals for the quarter. Use action verbs like "develop," "create," "implement," or "establish" to describe the specific thing that needs to get done. Instead of stating "Cost Savings," be clear and state, "Create a plan to reduce cost by $50,000 in Production by the end of the quarter." Now, your team knows exactly what they are shooting for, and there is no ambiguity.

Measurable Goal

How are you going to measure your goals? What are you trying to accomplish in the next 90 days? What would be unacceptable? It is key to make your success criteria as measurable as possible and remove any subjectivity from the equation, so your team has a complete alignment. Make your success criteria results-focused, clearly defined, and measurable. We recommend the simple and effective red, yellow, and green systems to measure your success in the smart framework.

Attainable Goal

Your goals are set; the following question to ask yourself is, "Does my team have the right resources/tools/infrastructure to attain the goals we have set?" You want to set your team up for success and ensure the goals can be reached. If you create unattainable goals, this can discourage your team and leave them feeling stuck.

Realistic Goal

Have you set realistic goals for the quarter? We are often unrealistic with our time and end up placing our goals without considering all the necessary action items. Avoid this scenario by thinking through your action items. Write down your action items, assign who is responsible for each item, and add a date for when the action item is due. You will quickly see if you have made a realistic goal or discover that there is more to be done than expected. Break down your goal into realistic chunks that can be achieved, keeping in mind that something is always going to come up that could slow energy into this project. Relevant goals are always aligned with organizational goals.

Timely Goal

Is your goal achievable in the next 90 days? Be honest with your time and think through what you can physically do in the next 90 days. Everyone on the team should account for their day job responsibilities and clearly understand how much time you have to dedicate to reaching your individual goals and if your team members are on track to get theirs. Include a due date if the plan can be achieved in less than 90 days. If it takes longer than 90 days, we recommend using a milestone as your quarterly rock to ensure you are on track. The best goals are relevant and time-bound with a realistic time frame.

Begin with the End In Mind When Setting Goals For Employees

When setting employee goals, it is essential to begin with, the end in mind. What do you want the employee to achieve? Do you want them to learn something new? Gain experience? Be promoted? Get paid more? If you don't know what you want the employee to accomplish, how will they know whether they are progressing toward achieving their goals? Do these goals align with the company's strategic priorities? Will the personal goals help you get to the team goals?

Begin with the end in mind when setting goals for employees. You must know what you want your employee to accomplish before you start working toward it. If you don't, you'll never succeed. A clearly defined vision of what we are attempting to achieve before we start doing anything is the key to achieving your goals. Develop clear success criteria that help you know whether you have reached your goal. You first create the desired mental picture and then go ahead and do the work.

Have Clear Success Criteria for Your Goals

Have clear success criteria for your goals. Set up milestones along the way to measure progress. If you're unsure how to do this, ask yourself questions like "What am I looking for?" and "How will I know when I've achieved my goal?"

You must define your success criteria as meaningful to your organization. For example, if you are trying to increase sales revenue, your success criteria might include increasing sales revenue by 10% over the next six months.

Your success criteria must be clearly defined. You cannot measure the success of your goals without defining exactly what success looks like. Without knowing what success looks like, you won't know if you're meeting your goals. Insight into the red, yellow, and green performance indicators for precise goal setting can be found at the link.


Track Progress on Your Goals with Software

Track progress on your work goals with software. Use software to keep track of your progress. Keep notes about each step taken and note whether or not you met your goal. You'll have an easier time achieving your goals if you use software to help you stay organized. Using the software provides transparency, connection to your company's 3-5 year strategy, ability to comment on the project, track dependencies in other departments, and many other features to keep your team aligned and on a plan.

Software is an excellent tool for tracking project progress and keeping everyone informed. It can also be used as a communication tool between teams. The software allows you to easily share information and collaborate with others, improve employee engagement and keep the team aligned. A high-performing team will keep their personal progress updated and check in on how the team is doing.

Adjust When Off Track to Completing Your Goal

Suppose something unforeseen occurs, such as losing your largest customer or dealing with an unexpected regulatory change. In that case, you may need to adjust your plans without any contingency. In these situations, it's essential to set aside time to create an alternative plan to continue to meet your goals. To help ensure success, consider scheduling an Adjustment Meeting separate from your weekly meeting, where you'll discuss potential changes and develop a revised strategy.

Execution should be iterative. By having a good mix of leading indicator KPIs, team input and collaboration, and accountability action items, you can gauge how you are moving the needle towards executing your goal. You'll be able to make weekly adjustments toward your goals to get back on track. Setting smart goals is just the first step. Make adjustments when off track to completing your goal. Don't give up too soon. Sometimes things take longer than expected. Be patient and continue moving forward.

Ted Skinner


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Ted Skinner


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