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Writing Better Goals Today

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‘Tis the season of goal writing.

The annual review of the past 12 months… the wins… the growth… the learning points.

The look ahead to the coming year when you ask yourself, where are we headed, where do we need to grow, and how do we get there?

Goal setting is a non-negotiable for leaders. Like mile-markers set out to guide us on our path, goals help to ensure we are focused on a prescribed destination. Goals ensure we focus on the right outcomes. Goals ensure that we steward our resources successfully.

Goals ensure that we steward our resources successfully. Click To Tweet

But goals are tricky to write.

I’ve led in ministry for 16 years and I’ve written goals every year.

Personal growth goals.

Professional growth goals.

Fitness goals.

Spiritual-discipline goals.

Leader-development goals.

All for the purpose of posturing myself to grow.

I’ve learned in recent years how to write more effective goals. Ones that are measurable and closely aligned with Organizational values so they truly advance us toward our mission.

Effective goals are measurable & closely aligned w/ Organizational values. Click To Tweet

But this past year, our team has refined our goal setting to a greater degree.

Like turning the dial up, the format we are using can increase focus and accountability 10-fold.

And it’s uncomfortably exciting.

Taken from the methodology taught by the Studer Group, goals are written in a very specific way.

They include:

  • an intentional action (i.e. Increase, Decrease or Maintain)
  • what you want to measure (i.e. team collaboration)
  • from (current performance; i.e. 5.3)
  • to (target performance; i.e. 7.5)
  • by what time period (i.e. weekly, monthly, annually)
  • by what measuring tool (i.e. Collaboration Survey)

Here’s an example of a completed goal statement:

Increase Employee Engagement from 5.3 to 7.5 by 4th Quarter 2016 as measured by Employee Engagement Survey.

The way in which the goal is stated is specific as to what I want to grow (Employee Engagement), by how much I want to grow (>2 points), when I want to achieve this (4th quarter next year), and how I plan to measure.

Here’s what I like about this format:

Clean
It’s so clear what I set out to achieve. There is no ambiguity. Time has taught me the value of clarity. In the past I preferred goals that left a lot of ‘wiggle’ room so I could adjust as the year progressed. But using language that creates ‘wiggle’ room can produce a goal that is so broad, you’re not sure you’ve achieved.

Language that offers 'wiggle' room produces a goal so broad, you're not sure if you achieve it. Click To Tweet

Open
The goal targets the desired outcome without defining the process. I’m left with the freedom to maneuver and adjust as the year progresses. If one action doesn’t score points on the board, I have the freedom to adjust my tactics and try something different.

In the past, I’ve been known to make a tactic my goal. i.e. Increase brainstorming sessions with Creative Team. Yet tactics are intended to achieve a greater end (i.e. increasing collaboration among the team) which achieves a greater outcome… Engagement. And ultimately, it’s the greater outcome that I want to accomplish, not the tactic.

Understanding the difference between a goal and a tactic is where I’m still deep within the learning curve. But I’ve enjoyed this process, nonetheless.

How do you form your goal statements? And how effective have they been moving you closer to your mission?

Want to know how to turn the up on effectiveness? Check my next post on prioritizing your goals.

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