Setting Goals

By Gary Hazelberg Grandy Associates

Goals are the definition of success.  Without setting goals how do you and those you manage know if they are doing well.   Setting goals can be difficult, if we have steps to go through it makes it much easier.  My goal is to explain why goal setting is so important, explain the SMART goal setting process, what we should add to this process, and how to facilitate a system integrating goals.

I like the SMART goal system:

  • S = Specific,
  • M = Measurable,
  • A = Attainable,
  • R = Relevant and
  • T = Timely

Specific.  A goal should be Specific, if your goal is a sales or profit goal it should be expressed in dollars not percentage.  A goal specified in a percentage can be vague. Let’s take a $1-million-dollar company, if their goal is expressed as an increase in sales of 10%, the owner and top managers may know that the goal is $100,000, but who else would?  A goal expressed as $100,000 increase in sales is more understandable to everyone in the company. 

Goals can and should be process goals as well. Process goals can also be expressed specifically.  How long does it take to complete a process effectively?  Can we set a goal to shorten that process, make it more efficient without giving up quality? 

Measurable.  A goal should be able to be accurately and consistently measured.  If you are doing a calendar year goal, make sure you use the same process every month to calculate your process towards the goal.  Do your homework before you announce the goal and establish how you are going to calculate your results.  Be very careful that the results will be consistent with your original measurement processes or people will notice the difference and get skeptical.

Attainable.  A good goal should be a stretch to attain.  It should make people wonder “can we really do this?”  A good goal cannot be too much of a stretch however because people will automatically ignore it.  How much is too much of a stretch?  Now is time to do the math. If you are figuring a calendar year sales goal, figure out how much your growth has been over the last few years, maybe your company averages an 8% growth rate, over a five-year period.  Can you do a 10% growth?  11% or more?  Translate the percentage growth to dollars with a healthy stretch and that will be your goal to shoot for.

Relevant.  I feel this is the most important of the steps.  Your challenge to make the achievement of this goal relevant, or important, to as many people as possible.  If you achieve your goal without making it relevant it was pure luck or maybe a good year for everyone.  To make a goal relevant for your team, you need to understand what motivates them, what will make them do something different that is out of their comfort zone. Should you provide a SPIFF or bonus if you achieve the goal, an extra day off, a big thank you, a party or food brought in for the team.  Whatever it is, you must decide what the reward is before you set the goal, so everyone knows what they are working for.  A successful goal will depend on the actions of the team, they must be motivated to achieve the goal, and it must be relevant to them.

Timely. What is the time frame you have chosen to complete the goal that you have calculated?  Is it monthly, quarterly, annually or a calendar year goal? You must spell this out clearly, don’t assume everyone know what you have in mind.

How. Great you have completed the SMART goal process, but I think one thing needs to be added to SMART.  I like to add an “H”, so now we have a SHMART goal process.  The H stands for How.  How do you plan on achieving the defined goal?  Are you adding more people?  Expanding your territory?  Adding a new line of work?  You must spend some time and make a plan defining how you think the team can achieve the goal and tell everyone about it.

Going through the SHMART goal process will force you to define the goal, so you can communicate it clearly to your team.

Get organized, get excited!  Communicate the goal to the team using the SHMART goal system and tell them how it is going to be communicated going forward.

Set a reminder to yourself to communicate progress regularly on the same day of the month.  I put a reminder in my outlook program for regular updates. 

Remember that department and personal goals need to align with the company goals.  Every department and every person must do their part to achieve the goal.

Success.  If you achieve your goal, remember to celebrate, do not just create another goal and move on.  You must say thank you to everyone and show how much you appreciate their hard work.

Falling short of your goal.  If you fall short of your goal, do an honest review of the goal, was it not set right?  Was it not as relevant to everyone as you would have wished?  Maybe life got in the way, and you did not do your part to make the goal happen?  Or was it weather or some other thing that kept the goal from being achieved? 

If you had a healthy stretch in your goal and you came up just short, you probably did better than if you would not have set the goal at all.  This is not a failure!  Make sure your team is aware of the success you have achieved.

Learn from the goal setting process and create new challenging goals for your team regularly.  You will find as you set goals, you will get better at it and everyone will appreciate that you have defined success, so they know whether they have succeeded or not.

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