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For truly effective goals go beyond specific and measurable; make them challenging to drive higher performance.

‘Our company goal for 2018 is to accomplish the goals of 2017, which we should have done in 2016 because we committed to them in 2015 and planned them already during 2014.’

Did this make you smile?

I certainly did when I read this, as often the response from small business owners to the question about setting goals is ‘what’s the point, everything changes, so why bother’

However, of all the theories of management (and let’s face it there are many) Goal Setting theory is the most universally adopted by organisations of all sizes. The CIPD reported in 2016 ‘(Goal setting) theory is confirmed by hundreds of high quality empirical studies and can therefore be regarded as one of the most ‘evidence-based’ interventions in organisation and people management ( https://buff.ly/2F7KIle ) and for good reason.

Goal Setting theory, formally published by Locke & Latham in their 1990 book ‘A theory of goal setting & task performance ‘states that ‘goal setting is fundamentally linked to task performance. Setting specific and challenging goals, along with appropriate feedback, contribute to higher and better task performance.

That’s right. Goal setting = higher performance.

Whilst most people are familiar SMART goals – that is only part of the theory, there are 5 C’s that all contribute to effective goal setting.

The 5C’s of effective goal setting

1. Clarity – Making SMART goals provides clarity of what is expected; by when, by who and with a clear understanding of what success will look like. e.g. ‘Increase sales’ becomes ‘Increase total sales value by 20% (2017 £xxk) by December 2018’

2. Challenge – create goals that inspire and motivate – this is very personal, only you can judge where to set a goal which gets you to jump out of bed in the morning but doesn’t prevent you sleeping at night.

e.g. Create 1 blog per month or create 1 blog per week

The key is to challenge yourself so that meeting or exceeding the goal will bring a real sense of achievement.

3. Complexity – this is linked to challenge, recognise that you need to balance the complexity or difficulty of the goal, setting unrealistic goals will have a demotivating effect. For more complex goals it is useful to break it down into 3-4 smaller sub goals.

4. Checks – build in checks & reviews, particularly for long term goals, if its going to take two years then how will things look at 6 months in. Importantly, if you find things have changed, either within your organisation or externally in the market place these interim checks help you to amend and adjust the goals if necessary but remain focused on achievement.

5. And finally, Commitment – if you worked in an organisation your manager would be holding you accountable to your goals, however as a business owner or solopreneur you are the boss so without that discipline how do you commit to your goals?

There is research demonstrating that the simple act of writing a goal down increases commitment to achieving it. In addition, sharing your goals with others, especially if they are someone who you respect in a professional capacity, will keep you on track. This is often seen as the most valuable part of having a business coach. How about visualisation? close your eyes and imagine how you will feel when you have achieved that goal, the thrill of success or the pride of achievement. For me, I write out my goals and have them on my desk, seeing them every day is enough to keep me focused and I schedule review meetings with myself, booking out time in my diary to review goal and plan on a quarterly basis.

So how about you? Put some time aside to review and set your goals and just think by applying these simple steps you are already giving yourself a head start to achieve them.

Janet Doran is based in North Yorkshire, UK and works with freelancers, sole traders and small business owners helping them to answer questions such as ‘how can we stand out from our competitors, attract customers and win new business?’, developing business strategies to create Competitive Advantage. Find out more at www.thepositivepen.co.uk or follow her on twitter https://twitter.com/thepositivepen

SOURCE: Janet Doran


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