In this episode, Jason Davis tackles a common issue with performance goals today: lack of clarity and communication. Jason talks about the importance of setting clear goals and how to communicate them to your team.
Jason Davis 0:10
Welcome to Lead Smarter Not Harder, your stop for how to stand out as a leader. I'm your host, Jason Davis. And this week, we talk about goal setting, how managers can set clear goals for their employees, and make sure they're holding them accountable. You won't want to miss a second of this show. Let's go.
Okay, one of the spend some time in this episode talking about goal setting, and specifically what a manager's role in goal setting is or should be some better ways to go about it. And some problems that we're kind of seeing out there right now based on some research around why this is an important topic, why I really wanted to talk about it today. So it's a jump, right? In reality, you know, when you think about setting goals as a manager, or a leader of people, that the main thing that the biggest thing that we need to set or think about when setting goals is that goals and expectations of employees should be clear, communicated, and understood. There's a lot of ways that you know, managers obviously can communicate those, you know what we'll talk about that here in a little bit. I think where we as leaders kind of fall short, sometimes are asking our employees questions about goals, making sure that they're clearly understood, and not just assuming that our employees understand what their goals should be. So again, going to spend some time in this episode, really separating out some ways of one, making sure that we have some ways as managers to communicate goals, but then also thinking about ways that we can kind of check with our employees to make sure they understand goals but also understand where we are on progress with them as well. So, you know, just to highlight a little bit of this problem, it may seem pretty obvious, right? That goals need to be communicated and need to be clear to employees, and workers, you know, for them to be successful. You know, but for whatever reason or another, they're not, or at least the perception from employees is that their goals are not clear.
So, you know, and this is some research that comes from Gallup actually, only six intends, so that's six in 10, US employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work. Alright, again, that six in 10, US workers know what is expected of them day today. So if you think about that, we've got the other foreign 10, you know, so that's close to half of us employees begin their day without having a clear definition of what they're expected to achieve. You know, they walk in the building walk in the door, you know, now, you know, maybe log on from a virtual location. But four out of 10 of those individuals are not clear completely, what the definition of success looks like for their role, their job, maybe their company. To me, that is astonishing. I could not believe you know, it was that that deep and really was kind of the trigger for me anyway, in to getting into this episode and saying art, we've got to do something about that, you know, we've got to make this easier and less awkward and more comfortable as a conversation for managers to have. So, you know, again, I want to spend some time in this episode talking about a few things, getting into the manager's role and goal setting, what makes a great goal, and then we're going to talk about a quick template that managers can use to help set goals with their team and making sure that they're clear and understood. So to start, what is a manager's role in goal setting, I've broken this into two different sections. There's probably more than that. But you know, a couple of different things that I really feel like managers should be responsible for, or the two things that managers need to be responsible for. And goal setting is one delivery and two accountability. So let's break each one of those down. So on the delivery side, this is the delivery of the goal communication, making sure your people understand it, right. And that gets back to what we just talked about, or what I just talked about, you know, we've got four and 10 people that don't know what they're supposed to achieve in a given day. Let's make sure that everybody knows what their goals are. So let's turn down that number. You know, making sure that you and your team understand what your goals are and what you're supposed to achieve. So you know, this can be done by asking questions back to your team.
Once you've talked about a goal or initiative or something you're looking to achieve, just to check for understanding, make sure that you know your team understands the goal in the same way you do because they're the ones that are ultimately going to be working to achieve that goal. Your job is to kind of hold them accountable for that. We'll talk about that in a minute. But ultimately, these are the people that are going to be doing that work. And you want to make sure that they clearly understand what you're portraying to them in terms of a goal. So, you know, talk about what success looks like, you know, talk about what you know, things look like at the end of this, your job as a manager, again, is to communicate the goal, talk about what success looks like, you know, make sure your team understands it, you know, don't tell them exactly how to do it, though, you know, let them figure that piece of it out. But make sure they know where they should end up at the end, you know, what are those constraints, what things should they be targeting, and really thinking about in terms of success, so that's the delivery side of making sure you're setting and giving your team effective and clear goals.
So I mentioned also, you know, kind of the second component, or the second part of the manager's role and goal setting is accountability. And this really gets into holding yourself accountable as well as your team.
It includes following up communicating any kind of issues, concerns, problems, you know, over a goal or something that you're trying to achieve or a project that you're working on. And from the managers perspective, as well as checking in on progress, you need to kind of stay on top of things in either in meetings or conversation or whatever just making sure you're checking in on progress and goals so that you know where things stand you know, and you need to set the stage is from a manager standpoint that you know, accountability towards a goal is a two-way street its two-way communication that needs to take place between a manager and their team or manager and an employee or anything like that right? You know, because we talked about holding people accountable obviously the manager is going to come around and ask, Hey, what's going on, you know, with this project, you know, but I think it's important for managers to also make sure that their employees and the team know that you need to tell me when there are problems and you need to tell me when there might be you know, a risk to achieving the goal and the timeframe that we've established those things and those conversations need to happen so that if the manager is in a position or if you as a manager are in a position to do something about it, you can actually do something about it before it gets too late. So make sure that your team has that safe space with you as the leader to be able to communicate to you and let you know when something is not right or they might need some help. It's important to make sure that that two-way communication exists from an accountability standpoint. So again, delivery of the goal and then accountability holding people accountable those I feel like are there are the managers two main roles when you're thinking about goal setting and you know, achieving goals.
So what makes a great goal I think that's a really good question and you know, again, there's probably a lot of answers to this there's probably not any not many wrong answers you know, from my perspective and how I used to teach this you know, to call center managers in the insurance industry as you know, really kind of thinking about three components you know, the goal details what should be achieved, to what extent and by when and you know, when you really think about it in those three ways, or those kinds of three components anyway, it really starts to simplify and make it very clear for you know, a manager to be able to set and establish a goal and then make sure that employees understand what it is so you know, there's a lot of templates out there for something like this. There's I'm going to use the SMART goal template here and you know, it's one that's widely used, there's tons of information available about it. It's certainly not new, it's nothing groundbreaking here. I'm going to add a little bit of context to each part of that each part of the model and some things that I think you know, managers might be able to do a little bit differently.
But I want to get into this and I want to talk about this model in particular because it's so simple and it's so effective. I love simple things and I love them when they're effective. So you know, so hang with me for a little bit we're going to talk through the SMART goal model and our template however you want to refer to that and really give as I said, some managers you all a good way to set goals with your team, hold people accountable and make sure you're on the right track for achieving them. So let's take a look at the template. So obviously it's starting out is as the acronym smart S. M. A. R. T.
So we'll start with the first letter S for specific. And this is where you're really calling out specifically what the goal is, and what needs to happen with it. Right? So is the goal to achieve, you know, hire sales to achieve, you know, a higher level of retention or anything like that. This is where you're really trying to make sure you're just being specific with what that is. And again, is it an increase or decrease and to what extent, you know, let's talk about To what extent that that metric is going to move or that that that goal, or that that number needs to move, right. So be specific, provide specific information, when you're working with your teams and employees on what the goal should be, or is going to be.
Next, the letter M, and the acronym are for measurable. So we have S for specific M is for measurable. This means that the goal must be measurable. So when you're delivering a goal to one of your employees or to your team, it needs to include You know, there needs to be a metric tied to it, or attached to it anyway. And that metric should be one that's readily available to your team, one that they see often and update, one that's on some kind of dashboard or report that they get. But you want to make sure that the goal or the metric that you're using, and the goal is something that your team can see. And really, you know, have a way to track their progress on it.
So the next letter, in the SMART goal acronym is A.
A for achievable so this is making sure that the goal is achievable, or attainable, you know, so don't create something that's so far out of reach that your team can't get there.
You know that there's there is a concept of, you know, big, hairy, audacious goals or B- hags are just huge goals that, you know, are meant to move a needle, and, you know, not necessarily meant to be achieved. It may sound counterintuitive, I'm not a huge fan of that kind of tactic. Not saying it doesn't necessarily work, I just don't like it.
But part of it is because of the above it, it makes it seem like the goal, the goal is not reachable anyway. You know, and to me, as I said, I feel like we're just playing games a little bit, if it's like, Alright, I don't, I'm gonna set this big goal, you know, and if I'm a leader, I don't really care if you achieve it, but if you get half of that, then I'm fine, or I'm comfortable with that. I don't know, to me, it's, it's not a, it's not a big motivator, for me, it may work for you feel free to try it, you know, but just kind of keep an eye on things like that. And so, but again, it goes back to you know, so make sure that the goal is achievable. Something that is actually within reach something that can be done, you know, buy your team by employees. And, you know, and I don't only mean by, you know, to what extent is something achievable, right, you know, so don't, don't only think about, you know, how far out are up or down or increase or decrease? Do we need to move this metric, but when you're setting the time limit, or you're kind of thinking about, hey, what's the timeframe that we're going to use in this goal, you know, make sure that the goal that you're setting within that timeframe is also achievable. So that's, that's also a component of having an achievable goal is that you know, it is achievable within the timeframe that you're setting. Okay.
All right. So moving along to the next letter is relevant. So this is making sure that the goal is relevant to the team or employees role in, you know, again, as a manager, you know, this might be one of those gut check things that you're doing when you're writing out a goal or thinking about what goal you're going to deliver, you know, is this goal relevant to my team or my employees? And then how do you make that clear to them? You know, I think, I think it's interesting and it's, it's compelling for managers to find ways to connect goals back to, you know, the employee’s purpose, and then back to, you know, company values or mission, you know, things like that, really connecting the purpose back to the mission of the company, you know, so that people can see, Alright, here's the goal, here's why it exists for me. And here's what that means to the company.
I think there's a lot of value in that for an employee when they can see directly or maybe indirectly a little bit, you know, what their work helps the company achieve. Some people you know, may not be directly in sales or may not be directly in service, right? They might be in accounting, or they might be in some back office team that doesn't see the actual work taking place. And they need to know what their purpose is to the company mission. And I think when you're talking about the relevance of goals and why you know, a certain goal may be to set for somebody, this is a really good opportunity to do that. And to make sure that you can talk through, hey, this is the goal, why it pertains to you, obviously, this is why it's relevant to your job. And this is why it's relevant to the company's success. It is a huge motivator in a lever, I guess you could say, for a manager to be able to pull in terms of just making sure that their employees understand what their purpose is at work. You know, it's, it's something that, again, sounds easy and simple to be done, but not a lot of people have a clear purpose at work or understand what their clear purpose is at work.
Alright, so now getting into the last letter in the acronyms we've gone through S for specific M for measurable, A for achievable R for relevant, now we're at T for time-bound. All right, this one seems pretty obvious, but it's, it's probably the most left out factor or function of setting a SMART goal or setting a goal is really talking about, hey, what's the timeframe that, you know, we're working on here, if we're going to have a goal, we need to make sure that we're kind of built within or we've got some kind of constraints around how long it's going to take to achieve, you know, and things like that. And, again, make sure it's achievable. You know, like, don't set a timeframe, that's so short, that you just can't make it. But make sure you're talking about a timeframe.
You know, it's, it's not something that's always set in stone, things happen that, you know, that might cause you to shift a timeframe, that's okay, too. It's not ideal, of course, but it's okay to shift a timeframe if you've got to do so. But you need to have some kind of target or timeframe around the goal. Otherwise, work is just gonna creep on forever, or, you know, you're not gonna, you know, attain a target within the, you know, timeframe that you need it, you know, to set yourself up for the next quarter or the next year or something like that, you know, a lot of times when goals are set, you know, especially at a company level, and then cascaded downward, you know, they're, they're done in kind of a stair-stepping way of, Hey, we want to get to this point this year, so we can get to this point next year, so we can get to this point, you know, in the third year, right? It's, it's, a lot of times, it's about a three or five-year plan and things like that. So there are downstream impacts to not hitting a goal this year.
So that's why it's important just to make sure that you're setting up those timeframes and that time-bound feature of it, right? So, you know, we've gone through the entire acronym here, you know, a smart acronym for setting a SMART goal. Remember, S for specific, M for measurable, A for achievable R for relevant, and T for time-bound. So let's try this and just kind of put it all together quickly. This is a super simple example. very generic, but you'll kind of see just, again, you really get back to the three main components, what is it? To what extent and by when. So, you know, really, a super simple goal that I put together was company direct sales should increase from 25% to 35%. By the end of the year, again, that's so so simple. Not something necessarily, that you would expect people to use, or want to use in terms of setting goals for their team. But again, I just wanted to bring in an example of that, but thinking about it, right? It is specific, we were saying, Hey, we got direct sales, and we've given you know, where's the to and from numbers that we should be increasing to and from or from into?
It is a measurable number, right? direct sales, we can see that result? achievable. That's, you know, for this example, we'll say, yes, it's achievable. Relevant, you know, so in this case, we'll assume it's a sales team as well. And it's time-bound, right? We said it's by the end of the year. So again, just a really super quick example that, you know, can be used, you know, please adapt it for your context, obviously, but, you know, just one that I wanted to throw out there.
All right. So, as a recap, what are employees missing? You know, it touched on this at the very top of the show, they're missing clear goals and expectation expectations. Again, I said that almost half of us workers don't know what they're supposed to accomplish at work on a day-to-day basis, which means they start their day without knowing what they should accomplish.
Again, to me, that is an astonishing number of 40% of people drive to work, log on, walk in a building every day, not knowing what they should be working towards.
That's a big issue. You know, and one that I think we can really do some good work on, driving that number down.
We talked about the manager's role, right? It's the manager's role.
In the delivery of clear goals and expectations, and then making sure that your team are asking questions to make sure your team understands the goals, and then accountability, right holding yourself and the team accountable to those goals. So it's delivery and then accountability. But then also, you know, that means that again, checking in two-way conversations, making sure your team understands that it's okay to bring up problems and issues when they see them. When it pertains to a goal as well. It's critically important in terms of your ability, as a manager to be able to help them solve those problems and work through them so that you can hit the goal. And then third, we talked about a model for setting goals we talked about the simple SMART goal model.
You know, it's a very simple template. Remember, it's asked for specific, infer measurable, a for achievable, are irrelevant, and T for time-bound. So those are the bigger aspects of a goal, setting a great goal for your employees for your team. And if you follow these steps, I guarantee you'll be able to create some great goals for your team. So thanks again for listening. I hope that you're able to take away a few tips to make setting and communicating goals easier for you. If you would please take a minute to write a review rate the show and let me know what you think. Have a great week, everybody.
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"Iron Bacon" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/