Module 4: Agile Team Dynamics & Leadership
How To Set SMART Goals
Goals serve three important purposes:
- Goals are motivating. We work harder if we have goals.
- By setting goals strategically, we avoid that members’ conflicting interests will undermine trust.
- Through the combination of goals and feedback, team members learn and become motivated in the process.
How to set strategic goals
Based on some 400 studies in both the lab and the field, Edwin Locke has helped us understand the three most important principles of effective goal setting:
- Set high goals, because high goals are more motivating than moderate goals.
- Set specific goals, because specific goals are more motivating than vague goals.
- Track progress & give feedback, because it helps people see they are getting closer to reaching their goals.
These principles have been turned into the S.M.A.R.T. acronym, used in many organizations. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
- Specific – because specific goals are more motivating
- Measurable – because tracking progress is easier with numbers
- Achievable and Ambitious – because these are more motivating
- Relevant – goals need tob e relevant to matter
- Time bound – people need to see the end of the tunnel.
Example goals in the context of innovation
How would an innovation team that is about to launch a new product set S.M.A.R.T. goals?
- To be Specific and Measurable, the team could break down the product launch into measurable activities; for example setting goals in terms of number of customers to contact or number of clicks to generate on social media.
- Make the product launch Ambitious but Achievable by breaking it down. Perhaps the ambitious goal is to assume a market share by 40%, but the achievable version is to assume a market share of 10% in the coming 4 months.
- To be Relevant, set goals that is within the control of your team. If market share is dependent on a host of team-external factors – may that be top management; or a well-functioning supply chain - then it is not a relevant goal to motivate your team.
- Finally, it needs to be Time-bound. How many customers do you aim to reach within the first day? Week? Month? When do you expect to have a dominant position in the market?
By setting SMART goals – or in scientific terms, following Locke’s principles for goal setting – you create a foundation for trust with the brain. You align interests. You boost commitment. And you get a channel and direction for feedback in the team. Such predictability builds trust.