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“We succeed only as we identify a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are rare occasions where leaders have had the ability to attract a team that will blindly follow them, regardless off their path or destination. Professional managers and leaders in business understand that once a vision is created, it will not gain the respect of the team unless they can also see the path for attaining that goal. In simpler terms, you may be able to sell the team on the “what” we are going to achieve, but if you do not provide the “how,” most team members will forget the “what” and go right back to performing their tasks the same old way.

Effective plans will take a lofty goal or vision and break it down into smaller elements. These smaller elements become goals and objectives for the teams or business units, as well as the individual team members.

These individual and team goals create the stepping stones or milestones for achieving the vision of the organization. When the team members can see the path for attaining the vision, they are more likely to internalize and adopt the goal. Their level of enthusiasm will increase as they see the vital role that their individual contributions will make toward achieving the corporate vision. There are three types of goals and expectations that need to be set: Individual Goals, Team Goals, and Organizational Goals.

Individual Goals

The goals that are set for each individual member of a team can be personalized to that one person. They do not need to be the same for each individual. These goals should be set on a consistent (monthly, quarterly, annual, etc) basis and reviewed on a regular basis. The manager’s objective with individual goals is to make certain that the team member feels like they are contributing to the greater good of the organization and stretching their own capabilities at the same time. When a manager assists a team member with setting goals that are attainable, yet still a stretch to meet, they are helping that person grow professionally. The manager must also make certain that collectively, if all members meet their individual goals, the team will also meet their objectives to the organization. If there is not an alignment between the two, the team is set up to fail.

Team Goals

In addition to individual goals rolling up to team goals, some goals are only set at the team level. For example, in a sales team organization, each salesperson is responsible for their quota, but there may also be a group quota that is aligned with the revenue targets for the organization. If the group hits the team quota, everyone could receive a bonus. By combining individual and team goals, the manager creates incentives for the individuals to succeed on their own, but also an incentive for them to see their entire team win.

Organizational Goals

The goals of the individual and the team must also be in alignment with the organizational goals. Organizational goals can be set by the executive team as the vision for the company or they can be created by rolling up the individual and team goals into a target for the entire company. For revenue numbers, rolling up forecasted revenues and quotas is simple process. For other targets that are not as easily rolled up, such as customer satisfaction scores, the organization may set the standard for everyone. If an “8” on a scale of 1 – 10 is desired, then all teams and individuals must reflect this same score, or better, as their target to maintain consistency and alignment with the organization.

Much has been written on the subject of goals. A Harvard business study has shown that without goals, individuals are less inclined to achieve success than when their goals are well documented, internalized and reviewed regularly. Goals, by definition, should meet five key criteria. SMART objectives from “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives” by George T. Doran as found in the Management Review from November, 1981 can help define the purpose and key objectives for the individual and their role in the organization.

S.M.A.R.T. Description

What exactly do want to accomplish in your career / role?

Describe a particular desired accomplishment and be specific in the context of developing objectives that illustrate an observable action, behavior or achievement.  You want to use concrete examples and action verbs.

Is it measurable and can we measure it?

Produce quantifiable benefits and measure progress towards the achievement of the objective.  You want to use numeric examples of quantity, percentages, or returns.

Is it attainable?

Must be able to be accomplished with a reasonable amount of effort and application and with available resources (individual or a department).  You want the objectives to be feasible and appropriately limited in scope.

Will this objective lead to the desired results?

First, the objective being set with the individual is something they can actually impact or change.  Secondly, the objective must be important to the company.  Relevance can be accomplished with alignment to the company goals.

When will this objective be accomplished?

Have a specific date & time defined for completion of the objective. You want to identify the target date and time.

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