The Point: Setting SMART goals for yourself along the acronym for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Specific is a best leadership practice. But if that’s so, why are so many goals that get established by a leader or leadership team actually DUMB (Disperse, Undefined, Morale Crushing and Bumbling)? In this post we take a look at how you, the leader, can avoid making such dumb decisions when it comes to strategic planning… Enjoy!
I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!
John was a C-Suite leader at an INC 500 organization. In charge of the daily operations as Chief Operations Office (COO), he was also keenly aware of the goals that needed to be established for the coming year. However, what he was unaware of was how he and his team were unable to perform for the current year. “It isn’t that the year has been a total failure, it just wasn’t as successful as I would have liked it to be. If I was going to rate in on a scale from 0-5, with 0 being no execution and 5 perfect execution, I’d have to give us a 3!” he shared in a Centered Executive Coaching conversation prior to the annual strategic planning meetings the company held each November. “If I’m so smart, how come I can be so dumb?” he pondered.
SMART Goals, or are They?
As leaders, we’ve all been asked to put together SMART goals for initiatives. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Specific are benchmark classifications for goal structure. But if that’s the case, and so many of us compile goals in this manner, why do so many end up becoming unattained in review sessions (Hopefully you’re conducting your review sessions weekly/monthly, and not waiting until the end of the year to conduct – DISASTER!)
Shakespeare Would Be Proud, But Your CFO Won’t Be!
In reviewing goals that are established prior to our Centered Executive Coaching initiatives, we typically see them fall in one of two camps. Either (1) they are extremely short… 2-3 sentences at best. On the other hand, (2) they appear to be influenced by the great literary novelists and go on and on and on and on… Well, you get the point. Too short and goals couldn’t possibly contain the SMART criteria necessary to help structure the processes/implementation/sustainment initiatives needed. Too long, and you run into a “stimulus overload” scenario with little/no concrete direction being provided.
What’s a DUMB Leader To Do?
One of the key elements that we structure into each/every Centered Executive Coaching initiative is to put in place a series of metrics that are reviewed daily/weekly/monthly. Think of the most important key performance indicators that you identified in your strategic planning session (You DID identify Key Performance Indicators – KPIs, right?) If you’re measuring your progress, which might not always be in a positive direction, you’ve at least given yourself the leadership chance of succeeding. Why review so frequent? We’ve found that daily check-ins help identify derailment moments, keep focus on the initiative at hand and big picture simultaneously, and encourage high production levels.
If you’re a leader and your struggling because your SMART goals are actually DUMB, all is not lost. Implement a rigid metric-oriented quality control program consisting of your key performance indicators. Consistent review of metrics will insure operational alignment towards strategic planning goal attainment.
Centered Executive Coaching Questions
Considering a goal from your strategic planning meeting, ask yourself the following:
- Is our target specific?
- In which ways?
- Could it be broken down to the stakeholder level?
- Is our target measurable?
- What are the key performance indicators that we should track?
- What would our stakeholders say is important?
- Is our goal attainable in the give timeframe?
- What is the timeframe?
- Why is this timeframe important?
- What is at risk if we don’t accomplish in this timeframe?
- Is our goal realistic?
- Has it ever been accomplished before?
- What additional resources (human capital, technology, etc.) is required to accomplish?
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