How to Set Measurable Goals and Achieve Maximum Success
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As an entrepreneur or Company chief, there are myriad reasons why you should care about Goals: They help point you in the right direction for your vision; they motivate the teams and maintain them indebted; they help leaders make decisions, clarify priorities, and eliminate daily distractions.
But above all, the goal measurement help you track progress and explain the direction of your business to funders and other opportunities for financial capital — and the best way to do this is to include goals in your strategic plan.
A strategic plan captures and communicates your goals to various audiences. The strategic planning process includes a document that summarizes your vision for the future of your organization and lists goals and objectives to achieve this vision. The result of this process is not only achieving the goals you were looking for, but also achieving greater organizational capacity, achieving your mission, generating greater revenue, and being more financially secure. Here’s how to do it right.
A common challenge with objectives
You’ve probably heard of goals since you were a kid. They were taught to you and promoted to you by your teachers, advisors, coaches, bosses, etc.
As a result of all the different entries, you’ve probably learned different definitions of goals. In fact, I bet if you ask your team members to set a goal, you’ll get a variety of different answers — and that’s a big deal.
One of the challenges that I frequently encounter as an obstacle to successful strategic planning is the diversity of team member goal definitions. When your team members define goals differently, they approach goals and performance with different perspectives and goals.
So let’s get everyone on your team on the same page with a common definition of an objective.
I take my orientation defining the objectives of the sports world. In soccer, for example, a goal occurs when the ball crosses the goal line. In hockey, a goal is scored when the puck crosses the line. There are many more sports examples, but all provide crystal clarity as to when a goal is scored.
Applying this concept leads me to the following simple definition of an objective: a specific and measurable desired achievement.
Related: A guide to goal setting
How to write strong goals
You may know the well-known SMART mnemonic acronym for writing purposes:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Payable
- R: Pertinent
- J: limited in time
Over the years, I have found the acronym SMART very useful. My definition above highlights the specific and measurable elements of the acronym SMART.
Most of the time, the “A” in the acronym refers to “achievable” or “attainable”. While that works, I think “responsible” (or even “assignable”) is stronger. Too often I see teams creating goals that don’t have people identified as to be responsible for them. And, unsurprisingly, the objectives are not achieved.
Regarding the “R”, as in “relevant”, your objective must be to orient yourself towards a long-term vision.
Another thing: I like to add a “goal topic” to the beginning of goals in a strategic plan, as it helps readers get a quick idea of the goal. For example, when setting a goal to receive a specific score on a staff survey, I would use the goal topic “staff engagement”.
When developing the goals for your strategic plan, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it specific?
- Is it measurable?
- Are there any accounts to render?
- Is it relevant?
- Is it time limited?
You will know you have the right goals for your plan when the answer to each of these questions is “yes”.
Advice on the objectives of your strategic plan
There are two different types of goals you can develop for your strategic plan: results objectives and process objectives. Outcome goals are met when a specific metric has been achieved. Process goals lead to the completion of a plan, process, or system.
That said, you may be wondering how to measure process goals. These goals are achieved when you have a documented process in place. Of course, it’s not a number, but it’s still a measurable achievement.
This brings me to a very important point of guidance. Several years ago, I started noticing that the organizations I worked with that were really successful in strategic planning used a high percentage of process goals. In other words, they established and achieved goals that helped them develop capacity building processes. So be sure to include process goals in your strategic plan if you want to create the changes you seek.
I recommend have goals on your strategic plan that are organization-wide and have a turnaround time of several weeks to a year. You can also list action items, individual tasks of larger goals, that will take less time to complete.
In summary, it is essential that you and your team have a common approach to how you write strategic objectives. These tips will help your organization solidify its strategic plan and be more successful.