According to the Harvard Business Review, an astounding 95% of employees don’t have a good grasp of their company’s goals and strategy. Within a large team, this uncertainty might be manageable; so long as key decision makers understand the bigger picture, a team might be able to withstand such disorganization. At least, (one would hope,) it wouldn’t kill the business.
For smaller teams, however, this lack of clarity could destroy the wellbeing of the entire business. According to the most recent Staples small business survey, 75% of struggling small business owners cite disorganization as their big productivity-killer. When people don’t know what they should be focused on, why, and where to go for the information they need, useful work grinds to a halt.
How to Set Good Goals
The business world abounds with opinions about how to set good goals. Despite these varied perspectives, most of them align (either explicitly or implicitly) with the SMART goal framework. This framework was presented in 1981 by George Doran, building on Dr. Edwin Locke’s 1961 paper, showing that good goals lead to stronger team performance. Doran’s framework has been adapted by others during the intervening decades, but it’s remained fairly constant in spirit. The framework includes the following criteria of good goals:
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Ideally, every goal you and your team sets meets the above criteria. If you can help every member of your team internalize the SMART approach, you’ll enable them to set effective goals, thereby increasing the team’s chance of success.
What to Do to Help the Team Reach Their Goals
The best way of helping your team reach their goals is by keeping these goals top of mind. There are a few key ways you can keep these goals top of mind: first, make sure they’re easily accessible. Document them in a knowledge base like Tettra and make sure everyone knows how to access them. If you use Tettra and Slack together, make sure updates are posting to the relevant Slack channel whenever you make an update to the page. You could even consider tracking how many visits that Tettra page gets in any given month.
Second, reference and revisit these goals wherever appropriate. When discussing monthly plans, remind people of the 2019 goals you set. When reviewing quarterly results, encourage people to connect performance back to their goals. Take the time to celebrate when your team hits a goal. If the team misses a goal, spend time evaluating why, so that people can approach their work differently in the future.
Ultimately, your job as a leader is to help the team maintain focus on what’s going to drive your business forward. By setting SMART goals and making these goals clear and accessible, you’ll maximize your team’s chances of success.