The art of goal setting
The new financial year signals a new batch of goals for many. And there is an art to great goal-setting. Success starts with the aims themselves: the trick lies in finding the sweet spot where business needs and individual aspirations meet.
- Watch your language. Poorly written goals sound like job descriptions or to-do lists. A great goal includes what, when, how and why along with a concrete, qualitative or quantitative measure of success. Make it succinct and easy to understand, and use active language throughout.
- Find the sweet spot. People are more motivated to achieve a goal that matters personally. Aligning individual goals with organisational targets improves both engagement and business performance. Consider their strengths, motivations and career aspirations – how can you build a goal that encompasses these while contributing to the team’s overall performance?
- Stretch it out. Peak performance happens when an individual is stretched to the limits of their capability: any less leads to boredom, while over-stretching leads to strain and burnout. Goals can stretch two ways: horizontally, where they take on broader responsibilities, or vertically, where they increase their existing activity. Consider which direction is most appropriate and work together to agree a suitably challenging level.
- Build their confidence. People need to believe a stretch goal is within their reach. Reflect on their greatest recent achievement, drawing out the skills that helped them get there and how they’re relevant to the new goal. Coach them through any barriers they foresee and adopt the mindset that success is possible. Use positive, affirmative, collaborative language to build their belief that you’ll get there together.
- Refresh and renew. In business, change is constant; there’ll be bumps in the road along with new opportunities. So there’s no point in perfectly aligned, stretching goals if they’re not revisited until next April. Reassess them at regular intervals and be prepared to adjust to maintain motivation and performance.