Before you agree objectives with your team members, or set your own goals, worth reading the white paper from Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research company in the USA. Their research (4,182 workers from 397 organizations) has debunked the orthodox thinking that SMART goals are, well, smart! On the contrary, they show that they limit thinking and keep us in our comfort zones. This confirms my experience of the majority of performance management processes and systems I’ve come across.
As W. Edwards Deming said many years ago, ‘Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting.’ And as an HR Director said to me some years ago, ‘Our performance management systems are designed to create mediocrity.’
While I do have some reservations as to the zeal in their white paper, for example it takes more than good goal setting to achieve great things, what they have discovered is very interesting indeed.
They found the following eight ‘predictors’ as to whether ‘somebody’s goals were going to help them achieve great things.’ In order of importance:
- I can vividly picture how great it will feel when I achieve my goals.
- I will have to learn new skills to achieve my assigned goals for this year.
- My goals are absolutely necessary to help this company.
- I actively participated in creating my goals for this year.
- I have access to any formal training that I will need to accomplish my goals.
- My goals for this year will push me out of my comfort zone.
- My goals will enrich the lives of somebody besides me (customers, the community, etc.).
- My goals are aligned with the organization’s top priorities for this year.
Looking at this list, what struck me was how linked they are to the Gallup 12 Questions on what makes a great place to work and also work I’m developing with a new partner based in Denmark on Leadership Equity Assessment™ – a brilliantly simple tool for measuring team performance. More on this in a later post.
Using these factors consider the human being, tap into imagination and hope, are grounded in reality, give full opportunity for engagement and involvement, and require the ability to leverage the polarity of challenge and support, and encourage us to make a contribution to something greater than ourselves.
This demands a leadership transformation. If you are a leader, how about building these into the goal setting process with your team, and ask your associates use it with there teams? If you are really courageous, you can even share it with your boss!
Photo ‘Possibility’ taken at Tentsmuir Forest, Fife in December 2012, © Joe Lafferty, all rights reserved.