When we go to think about performance management it’s likely that the first thing that comes to mind is feedback and formal performance reviews. From being involved in performance improvement for many years I know that there can be a myriad of reasons of why we don’t see the performance we want in a team. It can be due to factors such as:
- Lack of clarity around goals
- Lack of specificity around what success will look like;
- Unclear expectations
- Lack of measurement or checkpoints to see how progress is coming
In this blog post today I wanted to zoom into an area that is often overlooked by leaders and team members – getting really clear on goals. While many organizations are familiar with SMART goal frameworks, not everyone is. Let’s take a look at what SMART-E goals are (note my addition of the E).
We want to make sure our goals are:
S - Specific - What specifically do you want to achieve? What will it look like?
M - Measurable - How can you track progress?
A - Achievable - With some stretch are these achievable?
R - Realistic - Again, with stretch are these in range?
T - Timebound - What's the timeframe on this - next week, end of June, early 2015?
E - And most of all, are these goals Exciting? If they are not exciting, chances are they might got get done, or may get done only to get them checked off.
Let’s take an example of producing a report. If we sit down to discuss the production of a report with a virtual team member, we will want to get much more specific than saying “I’d like you to produce a report”.
We first want to look at:
S – specifics: What is the report on? Key successes this year for the team? Implementation of activities due to the funding received for the project?
How long is it? What should it include? – Photos/Videos/Case Studies?
Will it be print and hard copy?
Once we get granular around the details we also then want to be specific around M – Measurable.
M – Measurable: What are the measurements which will frame this activity or goal?
Well we know that it’s got to be 60 pages – no more due to page size, no less because that would leave blank spots in the booklet
A – Achievable: Is this possible?
At this point we want to confirm that this is possible, given time, skills, resources. Who else might need to be brought into the project for support? What responsibility or authority might be needed so the staff can complete the task?
R – Realistic and/or Relevant – In further refining this goal it is important to discuss the relevance of this project or the WHY? Why is it important for the project to look the way it will? Why is is important to have 60 pages, vs 59 or 61? What is important about capturing success stories (the staff member may now understand that these stories will be beneficial for future funders, as well as staff themselves).
T – Timebound: In looking at one of our last categories, timebound, we want to provide benchmarks so that we can check in around progress. While we don’t want to micro-manage projects, setting checkpoints for quick reviews and updates can provide a space to make sure things are progressing as planned, any resources needed are identified, and questions are answered as needed. It is often easier to set a time at the end of your meeting so you don’t have to do a back and forth on email.
Finally, you will want to check in around the E – Exciting. How is this project/task/goal exciting? This speaks to motivation and what will help the staff continue to move through the ups and downs of the project. Perhaps the staff member has always wanted to focus on publishing, or writing, or maybe this is a way they see that they can leverage their past experience as a yearbook editor. Ask the team member why the project is important and how they find it exciting.
The SMART-E framework allows us to break down the goals we are working on into more manageable chunks, and helps us connect with the bigger picture of why goals are important as we look at adding an E (Excitement).
While I have used an example with just one person's goals here, you can use this same framework for breaking down team-based goals as well.
Let us know how you are using the SMART framework in your virtual team. Comment below.
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