Thursday, October 13, 2011

Criteria of Effective Goal Setting

Focus the performance of your employees by following some basic guidelines of effective goal setting.


The first competency of management is the ability to identify and set specific performance goals for your employees. You need to establish realistic and valuable performance goals that focus your employees on achieving the results that matter most for the organization.

Effective goal setting is a management science, not an art. There are no mysteries or hidden secrets to establishing employee performance goals. Focusing the performance of your employees through clearly defined goals is as simple as following ten basic guidelines of effective goal setting:

1. Goals must be written. Goals that are not written are merely wishes. The mere act of writing goals down and reviewing them regularly makes them real. Winning teams do not make up their plays during the game. They write their plans down and regularly review their performance against the plan. Games are won and results achieved when plans are followed and goals achieved.

2. Goals must be your OWN and "owned". The greatest performance successes are a result of individual commitment to personal success. Goal setting and goal striving are most effective when team and company goals become the same as personal goals. Results are achieved when performance goals become "my goal" for "my company".

3. Goals must be positive. The goal is not to avoid a loss; the goal is to win. Winning corporations focus on achieving increased market share, not on protecting their current advantage. Goals need to be visualized and the only way the goal can be visual is if it is positive. The mind rejects negative goals. Give people a positive benchmark for which to strive.

4. Goals must be measurable and specific. Specific goals produce specific results. Clear goals produce clear results. Indefinite goals produce no results at all. Goals must answer how much, how many, by when, and by whom.

5. Goals are best stated in inflation-proof terms. In football a touchdown is always six points and a golf stroke always counts as a stroke. Goals are best stated in units of measure that do not change. For example, “units sold” is a non-inflationary number, while “revenue generated” changes with the economy. “Pieces produced per employee” provides a clearer measurement of production than “total number of units produced,” since staffing levels may fluctuate. “Revenue generated per number of table covers” in a restaurant provides a clearer picture of actual production than mere “total revenue.”

6. Goals must be stated in the most visible terms available. When goals are measured in real, countable things, everybody knows the score. Goals must be measured in something you can see. Percentages are too vague. Instead, identify in real numbers what a 10% increase in production means in terms of units produced. In the heat of competition, communication has to be direct and simple, like a football team calling an audible at the line of scrimmage. Goals should not have to be translated by the manager in order to make sense to the employees.

7. Goals must contain a deadline. If there is no deadline, there is no goal. Deadlines are the foundation of commitment. Deadlines are adrenalin boosters and the instigators of achievement. Deadlines provide the pressure necessary to push people to attain the goals. Goals without deadlines are mere philosophical statements.

8. Goals must allow for change. People and situations evolve. Goals must allow for flexibility and adjustment in strategy throughout the game. Winning teams know how to alter their game-plan while the clock is still running. Don’t make goals so rigid that people cannot adjust their tactics when conditions change.

9. Goals must contain a statement of benefit. Goals and benefits go together. Goals need to tell performers what's in it for them. A benefit statement explains the WHY to people and provides motivational value. When there is a tangible reward, reaching a goal becomes a "want to' instead of a "have to" experience.

10. Goals must be realistic and attainable. Big results are achieved by incremental goals, not by quantum leaps and unrealistic expectations. Achievement of small goals provides the motivation to strive for bigger results. Success breeds success.

Employees are more productive when they have clearly defined performance goals to achieve. One of your primary roles as a manager is to define the production you want from your employees. When performance goals are defined based upon the ten guidelines outlined above, your employees know exactly what is expected and they become more focused – and more motivated – to achieve what you want. §

Innovative Management Group offers several executive, management and supervisory training programs on effective performance management, including how to set clear, specific, measurable performance goals. Please contact us for more information about our custom-designed courses.

1 comment:

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