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Examining Effective Goal-Setting

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When it comes to setting and completing goals, Chuck Sujansky, CEO of business consulting firm KEYGroup, suggests being smart about it—in more ways than one. 

SMART goals are a tool that companies use in order to set goals that will truly have an impact and motivate staff members. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. If your business goals fit these criteria, that makes for the best working environment for both the employer and employee, Sujansky notes.

For example, Oscar Moreno, the owner of Integrity Auto Collision Center in Fairfield, Calif., prioritizes goal-setting through meetings and communication between himself and his employees. The shop owner consistently checks in to make sure everyone is working together toward their objectives. 

“The key in our shop is keeping each other accountable,” Moreno says. “It’s not me telling the guys, ‘Hey, hurry up.’ It’s team members telling each other, ‘Let’s get it done.’”

Motivating your staff to have passion and care for their work is no easy feat. Sujansky focuses on effective goal-setting with a staff. 

With SMART goals in mind, Sujansky provides advice for shop owners struggling to get their staff members to accomplish goals. 

As told to Courtney Welu

Specific

Goals, expectations and criteria for the job should be discussed right away, so there’s no gray area for shop employees. An employee’s role defines the criteria you should use to measure their growth. If you’re specific with what you need from them immediately, you can align your goals with more success. 

You have to start with the job description and pull three or four key objectives, or main responsibilities, from that and try to quantify that into goals. You have to be specific and clearly state your business’s goals. 

Measurable

One key way to measure your employees’ growth is through frequent meetings. I have a meeting prior to the beginning of the year, or the measurement period. This initial meeting is where you discuss goals and expectations, and it’ll help connect your shop’s goals with your staff’s goals. 

You do a joint problem-solving sessions and decide three or four key goals that are going to be accomplished. 

Have frequent, periodic meetings. Whatever feels comfortable for the job, but at least monthly. And take a look at where your business is at at the start of the year, what have we done so far this year, and are we meeting or exceeding our expectations? Also, where are we feeling behind? 

Achievable

Employees have a tendency to low-ball their goals, while managers tend to shoot sky-high. If sales in an industry are growing at a 10-percent rate, you can reasonably expect employees to stretch to 15 percent—but it would be unreasonable to expect 50 percent. 

Set something that’s a stretch goal. But, at the same time, be realistic and be open to listening to feedback from employees on what they think is realistic, and come to a consensus on what the final goal should look like for the coming year. 

And remember: when you encounter failure in your business, it’s a coaching opportunity for the manager to help their employees improve. We try to figure out what we can do to improve those areas that aren’t meeting our targeted goals for the year. So, maybe you’re a little behind but, with appropriate action, you can get back on track. 

Relevant

When you set a goal, ask yourself if that goal is going to move the business forward. Does it contribute to the bottom line? If Not, it might not be the best goal. 

The manager has to base the employee’s goals on the goals of the organization. 

If the company’s trying to improve its sales revenue by 15 percent, then you’d want each sales employee to increase their sales by 15 percent, so you have alignment within the organization. They would sit down and the manager would communicate that to the employee and say “Okay, how are we going to do this?”  

Timely

Timeliness is an inherent part of making goals. Any goal that takes longer than a year to complete becomes a long-term goal, while a shorter-term goal becomes a short-term goal. 

And it’s important to plan accordingly. As a business leader, you need to meet with employees and state “This is what we have to do in order to make the business meet its goals for the year.”

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