SMART Goals: Individual vs. Group

Shawnee Love   •   February 19, 2021

In January, we talked a lot about goal setting with most of our focus on individual goals (whether personal or professional). However, organizations set goals as well, and like individual goals, we increase the likelihood of achieving them when we make them S.M.A.R.T. We also increase the likelihood of achieving them when leaders ensure:

  1. Goals are well communicated. Well communicated means going beyond articulating the goal and also explaining why the goal is important to the organization and what success involves or how success will be recognizable.
  2. Minimal distractions. Goals by necessity, focus organizational attention, but to achieve them, obstacles and distractions need to be minimized. It’s a terrible feeling to be asked to achieve a stretch goal, only to be overwhelmed with trivial tasks or undermined with inadequate resources. Leaders must clear obstacles to success and ensure tasks which aren’t priorities are deferred or stopped (at least until there is time for them). If a task cannot be put aside, that is a clear indicator it is a priority and must be accounted as part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting initiative (i.e., making goals Achievable). One example that instantly comes to mind is regulatory compliance. Although it probably isn’t on your list of top 5 goals for the year, failure to file taxes or remittances, etc. may prevent your organization from achieving its goals. Time and people available to achieve any goal are thus reduced by that which is needed for regulatory compliance.
  3. People can tell how they are doing.  Goals that are easily understood are one half of this equation. The other half is ensuring employees know where they are at and what they can do to help the organization achieve its goals. To ensure this visibility, the organization needs to be able to collect and share relevant information in a timely fashion and managers must connect the dots between the organizational goal and their role their teams have in contributing to it. Otherwise, someone in manufacturing might not understand how what they do drives revenue for example.

We welcome other suggestions for organizational goal setting.