Monday, February 24, 2014

Wanted: Goals and Execution

Listen to front line supervisors these days and most will tell you that they are barely keeping up with their work. They have no time for strategic goals. It’s all operational goals and it never ends.

Listen to middle managers these days and most will tell you that they are aware of the strategic goals but because they are so poorly or broadly written, they barely pay attention to them. They are nice but unrealistic,

Listen to senior managers these days and most will tell you that all goals, strategic or operational, need to be SMART goals, namely specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.  For them, this is the magic formula for success.

Listen to CEO’s, Presidents and Executive Directors, and most will tell you that even with SMART Goals the organization is struggling to make things happen in a timely manner. They are frustrated by the pace of change and the lack of results.

And when I listen to all of these voices, I smile and point out that SMART Goals need to translate into SMART Execution. First, many leaders, managers and supervisors fail to execute, because they assume that all SMART Goals are owned and understood by those who are going to do the work. The truth of the matter is that many goals are imposed by those who manage the work.

Second, for SMART Goals to become SMART Execution, some one needs to be actively involved in monitoring and coaching the progress on the SMART Goals. Most SMART Goals are written and shelved. They are not monitored on a regular basis and people are rarely held accountable for them.

Third, as SMART Execution takes place, we need to realize that other people’s perceptions may take time to change. We all carry preconceived notions of other people and other departments. We are prejudiced by experience and information, i.e. we carry a preconceived opinion or perspective without just grounds of sufficient knowledge. While SMART Execution may be taking place, we need to understand that changing perceptions takes time and awareness. We forget that most people during constant change are not very aware of what is happening inside or outside the organization as much as just coping.

This week, help people to write better SMART Goals but also help them to translate them into SMART Execution. They key to success is for you to become a better leader rather than for them to become a better worker. It all starts with regular coaching, supervision, and monitoring of their progress on these goals. 

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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