At the start of every new year come the expectations to set new goals, along with the plans to achieve them. If you’re a manager, the responsibility extends to managing team goals as well.
To set these goals, many people use the S.M.A.R.T. framework, meaning their goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. The OKR method, which stands for Objectives and Key Results, is another popular goal setting technique.
When asked about how to set yourself up for success when setting goals, here’s what our community had to say:
Put yourself first
When goal setting, it’s critical to define your own goals, before even scratching the surface on setting them for anyone else. “My approach would be to first make sure you’re taking care of yourself, so you can be your best self for family, friends, and colleagues around you,” says Ann-Marie Jennette. Of course, when you’re happy, healthy, and confident, you’ll accomplish more in every aspect of your life.
Prioritize your goals
Once you’re in a good place, as an individual, you’ll be better prepared to set goals and plans for the year. The key, Jennette continues, is prioritizing. “Create a list, considering it as a queue of items you’d like to accomplish. A list of possibilities! Break it down to identify the size of each individually, asking yourself how much time, dedication, resources and others you need to accomplish that goal.” Once you determine whether your goals are reasonable, she suggests identifying the ones that most motivate you and will make the greatest impact. Feel free to enlist others’ support here. “Even reaching out to your team to obtain a pulse of what they would get the most benefit and return out of could lead you in the right direction.”
Alexander Mikhailov agrees. “Always prioritize: do not attempt to solve for 20 sources of losses, or improve all 20 production lines in one go. You will fail 100%, as any improvement requires change of mindset, habit and eventually culture. Start small, slow but focused, with a clear action plan in front of you.” Instead of trying to accomplish everything at once, create a plan that allows you to work on three to five clearly stated goals at a time, and be sure to begin with those that will contribute the most value to your overarching, big picture goal.
Successfully accomplishing your goals isn’t always an easy task, and hard work should be rewarded. Allwyn Ivan D’souza suggests rewarding team members after each and every achieved milestone. “Celebrating accomplishments is important in boosting both your and your team’s confidence and morale.”
Arindam Bose agrees that rewarding hard work can go a long way in motivating your team. “Focus on rewarding the performers. Set well-defined SMART work targets each quarter and reward those who set the best examples.” When others see their successes, they will then be motivated to improve themselves.
Make sure the goals align
Brazzale-Anderson also says it’s important to make sure employees’ goals align with each other’s. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to clearly communication that alignment. “Connect the dots. How does one person’s goal connect to the guy sitting next to him? Or to the BIG boss? Do not leave it to the team to make all these connections themselves.”
Andrew Boote expanded on that notion, saying that employees should know how their goals affect each aspect of an organization. “Make sure they’re all connected; up and down. Be able to answer the question ‘How does what I’m working towards help my manager, team, department, division, organisation, and customers?’” He shares this will not only ensure people in your team are all pulling in the same direction, it’ll also clarify how their work is contributing to the larger picture, which serves as a great motivating factor.
Learn from the past
There’s no better path to the future than learning from the past. Boote encourages looking at past goals and performance and making adjustments to make improvements moving forward. “Nothing is more demoralising than setting the same goal for the same individual every year. If they’re constantly meeting it, stretch the goal a bit. If they’re always missing or just barely hitting it, think about adjusting it to include a component that would help them get there, like a planning step or a mentoring element.” Monitoring your team’s struggles and rewarding their successes will help keep them, as well as your company, on track with their goals.
Anitha Burra shared that she used to look at professional and personal goal-setting as two independent events – something she is not going to repeat this year. “This year I focused on balancing personal and professional goals to ensure that focusing on one doesn’t require compromising the other.” A healthy work-life balance is something we all strive for, and it has to begin with the goal-setting process.
In summary, as you set new goals:
- Take care of your own goals first
- Prioritize and focus on three high-impact goals at a time
- Celebrate the small wins
- Align your goals, and your team’s, with your organization’s
- Reflect on past experiences to improve your goal setting and tracking processes