As we wind down from the Holidays and start feeling the hope and excitement of what a new year brings, we start planning and setting our goals. We start thinking about that diet we want to try or how we are going to join the gym to work out more or develop better life habits, mainly focusing that hope and excitement on personal aspects of our growth. Very few times do we take the opportunity to also focus that hopeful and exciting feeling outside of that, taking the time to think outside of our personal growth, nevertheless, we should. Our planning process should not stop only on the personal aspects of our lives, there should also be energy to focus on our professional and business side, especially if you are a leader. As leaders, we are also responsible for taking the same care of thought in managing our business and our teams as we do with our personal lives (not one more than other). 

The beginning of the year is a great time to restart the hope and excitement of your business, department, or team as well. Establishing business goals and allowing your teams to set up business goals for themselves is an essential part of the growth of an organization. Goals can vary depending on what you are trying to achieve and do not necessarily need to wait for the executives to tell you where you should be focused because you should be driving that forward thinking mentality. There are many organizations that are operating without a mission, vision or goal that comes from the executives; however, this should not impede you from encouraging you and your team to develop goals that will enhance the business, operation or unit. Whether it is implementing a new process, introducing a new product, personal development to improve work performance or many others, goals should be something your team has ownership of and buy into, without it the goal will not be successfully achieved. Our role as leaders is to allow our teams to own and/or have input into the goals in order for those goals to be achieved throughout the year. 

Developing goals not only brings the hope and excitement of new ideas to your team it is also a tool to hold yourself and your employees accountable. The established and agreed upon goals can serve as a reminder of what employees should be working on throughout the year and measuring their progress in the completion of those goals can be a resource for performance management, which is why ensuring the goals are SMART goals is an important component to the development of those goals.

SMART goals are those that are specific and measurable. This allows employees to understand specifically what they should be focused on and the timeframe that has been assigned to complete the task or goal. It is an organized way for alignment in understanding the expectation. A simpler way to understand SMART goals is to outline the definition. SMART goals are:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable (attainable) 
  • R – Relevant (realistic)
  • T – Time-Bound 

Taking the time to establish goals can seem time-consuming and tedious, however, the impact of the return you receive at the end of the year is greater than the time you are investing in putting them together. Establishing goals creates a sense of purpose and allows forward movement in the business. My tip is to always have goals whether it’s in your personal life or in your professional life, goals provide you with direction and accomplishments you might not have achieved without them. Good luck and happy goal setting!

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