Creating a Culture Where Goals are Truly Actionable
SMART goals are easy to talk about but are almost always poorly implemented and monitored, much to the disappointment of CEOs and HR. The video associated with this article gives a brief preview of how HR can use technology to begin to help CEOs, managers, and employees with the oft-forgotten ‘A’ in SMART. But, apart from this being important to the CEO and HR – why should this be a company priority and how can HR get started? Below are four initial things to think about:
- If goals aren’t actionable, they can’t be achieved. Goals and action steps should be challenging enough to push an individual or team, but unless they are well-defined with a clear roadmap to accomplishment, they are not likely to be successful. The action steps should communicate precisely the dates and milestones for certain activities that lead to completion of the goal.
- Productivity guru, David Allen, wrote, “You don't actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it ‘done.’”
- In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Dr. Heidi Grant talked about a concept called the “if-then" plan. An "if-then" plan simply requires individuals to set triggers for when they will do a certain task (or action step). In fact, individuals who develop an “if-then” plan are “about 300% more likely than others to reach their goals.”
- Technology can bring the “A” in SMART to life in part by allowing individuals to document action steps that can be linked to goals, which can then be linked to company-wide strategies. This is helpful, especially to C-level executives who want to know that employees’ day-to-day actions are tied to desirable outcomes.
Ultimately, CEOs and HR have to ask themselves what type of performance management culture they want to have and what tools they need to manage it. On one hand, HR could simply recommend that everyone create action steps - and do nothing more. On the other hand, HR could enforce, monitor, and manage the process – thereby making action steps a staple of the management culture. If the CEO and/or HR is undecided on how (or if) they would like to manage this process, they may consider doing an informal study of their company by looking at individuals or divisions that have clear goals and action steps, and comparing them to those without - followed by an employee engagement survey.
Regardless of how CEOs and HR decide to promote a culture of goal actionability, breaking goals into action steps is one of the best decisions employees can make while working on any given project. Definitively stated, action steps increase the likelihood of accomplishing goals. Find a way to encourage all employees to use action steps when creating goals and make sure you leverage the latest features within your performance management software to help you succeed.
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