Recently, I wrote about how to make SMART goals work for you and explained why your “why” was the missing piece of the SMART goal formula. In this article, I am going to take you through the steps of using SMART goals to achieve your goals as a leader of a team of people and give you a SMART goals template you can use to make sure your goals are achieved.
How to use SMART goals as a leader
Unlike when using SMART goals for your individual goals, creating SMART goals as a leader requires what is called “buy-in” by your team. Often a leader has a number of goals they want to achieve, they have those goals clear in their own minds, but they fail to achieve their goals because they fail to communicate those goals in a way that motivates their team. Without their team’s buy-in, these goals are not going to be achieved no matter how SMART they are or how motivating they are to the leader.
As a leader, here’s what you can do to ensure your goals are achieved.
Make your goals as simple and clear as possible.
A few years ago I did some work for a large car company. That company’s goal for the year was to sell seven million cars and become the seventh largest car manufacturer in the world. This goal was communicated to all the company’s employees in a way that every employee was absolutely clear how their efforts would contribute to the achievement of that goal.
From the manufacturing plants around the world to the purchasing, finance, sales and marketing departments; every department bought into the goal because the leaders in the company communicated the goal in such a way that everyone understood exactly what was required of them and exactly what the goal was. On every department wall, there were two large numbers— “7/7”. This acted as a daily reminder to everyone in the company that their goal for the year was to build 7 million cars and become the 7th largest manufacturer in the world. They achieved their goal.
Whether you are a leader of a large, multi-national corporation or the CEO of a small start-up with five employees, you need to make sure the goal you set for your people is crystal clear and be specific about how their contribution towards achieving that goal really matters. A classic mistake I often see is where each department has different goals and none of those goals clearly reflect the company’s overall goal for the year.
An example of this is where the HR department has a goal of reducing the staff turnover to below 20% and the sales department has a goal of increasing sales by 15%. On their own, these goals do not communicate to the staff how their efforts will contribute towards the company’s overall goal for the year. They might be clear but they do not have any obvious relation to the company’s overall goal.
Start with the overall goal
Instead of setting individual goals at a departmental level, start off by making sure everyone is clear about what the team or company’s overall goal for the year is. Let’s say the company’s overall goal is to achieve a market share of 5%. That goal would be communicated to all team members in all departments.
Once everyone is clear about the goal, the next step is to get each team member or department to come up with how they will contribute to achieving that goal. Your HR department could say “by keeping staff turnover to below 20%, we will reduce the disruption caused by having to train new staff and help to maintain consistency throughout the year.”
The “what’s in it for me?” principle
Whether we like it or not, people will always look at a new initiative from the perspective of “what’s in it for me?” While we might like to believe our team and the people around us are motivated by some other higher moral purpose, our natural human reaction is always defaulted to “what’s in it for me?”
For example, your team could be motivated by a moral purpose, the health and welfare of your customers; but the motivation for your staff is the way doing good for others makes them feel and that is still a personal motive, rather than a higher moral purpose.