By Sam Gardner – Account Manager
We’re now well into January, and most people’s New Year’s resolutions will still be on track – the things they decide to change after the excesses of December. Whether it’s eating more healthily, drinking less alcohol, doing more exercise; how do you measure progress and ensure you reach the desired outcome? For some it may be a case of visualising the success; aiming for the big goal in one go. Others, however, find it more realistic to break the goal down into smaller chunks, setting several achievable goals which will contribute positively to the overall outcome.
The same can be said of goals in the workplace. It’s important to have an overall organisational objective in mind, however it’s the smaller ‘stepping stones’ made by, and acted on by individuals which ultimately determine whether the organisation achieves its aim. And so, rather goals being dictated to employees, leaders should empower their people to set their own goals, or at least the ‘how’ behind the goal. This can be daunting if you don’t have experience in the area, therefore we recommend using the SMARTER method enable goal setting within your organisation:
The Journal of Management, Business and Administration indicates that specific goals help bring about desirable organisational goals; such as reducing absenteeism, lateness and turnover. Having vague goals simply won’t cut it. If you decide you want to run that’s great, but what are you going to run? A mile, half marathon, triathalon? It would be far clearer, and therefore easier to plan the ‘how’ if the goal was more specific from the off e.g. running the ‘Run to the Beat’ half marathon in October 2013. It’s the same in business, only when you know the specifics will you be able to plan and the goal becomes reachable.
So you have your goal, how will you know you have achieved it? Metrics and milestones are useful here. For example, to reach our goal of running the half marathon in October,we’ll train twice a week – gradually increasing running distance by one mile . At eight miles, we’ll increase the distance by 1.5 miles. This can be measured and recorded using a mobile phone application; making it easy to see if achievement of the end goal is likely. If not, corrective action can be put in place.
It’s very easy to set huge and unrealistic goals, however you’d be being unfair on yourself and others if you’re expecting to move mountains. On the other hand, a goal that is too easily attained will not bring about the desired increase in performance (Lock & Latham, 2002). Review your resources to ensure goals are achievable. Running the half marathon this year is achieveable if you already own the right equipment to train in. However if you haven’t got trainers and only have jeans in your cupboard, without investment at the beginning, it’s likely the goal will be missed. Seek advice from others around you, mentors, colleagues, who may have already achieved a similar goal.
Goals must be within the remit of your own capabilities as well as the team and the organisation. If the objective isn’t going to help you or the organisation develop then it isn’t worth pursuing. It’s also imperative to understand the impact a goal can have on you and/or your organisation so ensure that goals are communicated and people can offer their opinions.
Deadlines improve the effectiveness of goals and knowing when you need to deliver will help keep things in perspective and ensure it doesn’t fall off the agenda. Organisation and time management is key to making sure goals are delivered on time and expectations exceeded. The half marathon won’t be completed as effectively as possible if there’s no deadline. Training can easily be put off, excuses made and the goal never achieved. So set yourself a deadline and be strict on doing what it takes to achieve.
Think about the rewards that will come once the goal has been achieved. So in our example, running for a charity that is important to you. You’re more likely to be engaged with the goal, even when it gets tough you’ll be motivated to achieve, you’ll shout about it; encouraging others to support you.. The goal must be something you actually want to achieve and not just in place for the sake of it.
Monitoring goals allows you to review progress and intervene / change should you need to; ensuring for success, i.e if half way through your training you break your leg it’s reasonable to put off the half marathon by a year. In business, reviewing goals with your manager or a superior is the best way to ensure they’re kept on track.
Whether you’re setting business or personal goals, remember that if they’re SMARTER, they can inspire you to achieve great things with both direction and purpose. Perhaps you may need to review your New Year’s resolution on this basis…
Did you achieve your 2012 resolution? And what are you going to do to make 2013’s a success?