When looking at the SMART goals acronym, the “A” typically represents making sure work goals are attainable. That is wise counsel. If you don’t believe me, consider the following example.
Let’s say I walk into your office and say, “I want you to run a marathon with me tomorrow.” Is that an attainable goal for you? I suppose it might be, but as someone who has run a marathon, I can attest to the fact that unless you’ve properly trained, the answer would be a resounding, “No way!”
Consider another possibility. What if I said, “It’s a beautiful day outside. Care to walk around the complex with me during lunch?” In that case, scheduling might be an issue, but the goal is much more attainable and may actually be enjoyable. 26.2 miles? Not so much!
When we consider work goals, it is important to challenge employees, but not push them to the point of never having any victories to celebrate. This is true whether you are dealing with membership goals at your rec center, employee participation in a wellness initiative, or registration for a training event. Here are some tips that may help:
- Define “attainable” – Your definition of success and your employees’ ability to be successful may not be the same. As you identify personal or employee goals, be realistic. That doesn’t mean we do not push, but it does mean we do not push too hard.
- Communicate – Goal setting should be established within a conversational framework. Do not just tell employees what their goals are. Instead, invite them to participate in goal formation as a means of providing ownership.
- Negotiate – Give employees time to think about the goals you are proposing. They may need a day or two to check schedules, process work loads, consult with other project managers or supervisors, etc. Your idea may truly be great, but it may need to be placed on the back burner for a few weeks. I would much rather wait and improve chances of success than launch and see enthusiasm derailed by lack of resources.
- Re-negotiate – As you walk through the SMART goal process, reassemble your team after a week or so and see if your definition of attainable remains accurate. If not, renegotiate attainability expectations. If you sense the bar was set too low, then raise it slightly. If you feel it was set too high, then back off just a bit. If your employees look like marathoners in training, then enjoy the run!
Let’s keep the conversation going. How do you define attainable goals and what outcomes do you see as a result?