Goal Setting: Setting Meaningful & Challenging Goals

1. Setting Clear Goals

How to set goals

Goal Setting

When your goals are clear, you know what you’re trying to achieve. You can also measure results accurately, and you know which behaviours to reward. This is why SMART is such a useful mnemonic. However, when a goal is vague – or when you express it as a general instruction like “take initiative” – it isn’t easy to measure, and it isn’t motivating. You may not even know you’ve achieved it!

How to set Clear Goals

Personal Goal Setting

Team Goal Setting

  • Write your goal down and be as detailed as possible. Use SMART, and consider putting your goal into the form of a personal mission statement, for added clarity.
  • Think about how you’ll measure your success toward this goal. What specific metrics will you use?
  • Once you’ve set your goal, examine how it makes you feel. Are you excited? Does the challenge motivate you? If you don’t feel strongly about the goal, you might need to clarify it or change it entirely.
  • Set clear goals that use specific and measurable standards. For example, “reduce job turnover by 15 percent.”
  • Write down the metrics that you’ll use to measure your team members’ success. Be as specific as possible, and make sure that everyone on your team understands how you’ll measure success.how to set clear goals


2. Setting Challenging Goals

People are often motivated by challenging goals, however, it’s important not to set a goal that is so challenging it can’t be achieved.

How to set Challenging Goals

Personal Goal Setting

Team Goal Setting

  • Look at your goal. Is it challenging enough to spark your interest?
  • Develop self-discipline, so that you have the persistence to work through problems.
  • Identify ways that you can reward yourself when you make progress. Incremental rewards for reaching specific milestones will motivate you to work through challenging tasks.
  • Before taking on a major goal, research it thoroughly. This will help you be realistic.
  • Think about how you’ll reward team members when they achieve challenging goals.
  • If possible, create some friendly competition between team members or departments. Competition can encourage people to work harder. setting goals


3. Securing Team Commitment

To be effective, your team must understand and agree to the goals – team members are more likely to “buy into” a goal if they have been involved in setting it. This doesn’t mean that you have to negotiate every goal with your team members and secure their approval. They’re likely to commit to it as long as they believe that the goal is achievable, it is consistent with the company’s ambitions, and the person assigning it is credible.

How to Secure Commitment to Goals

Personal Goal Setting

Team Goal Setting

  • Stay committed by visualizing how your life will look once you achieved your goal. 
  • Visual representations of your goal can help you stay committed, even when the going gets tough.
  • Allow team members to set their own goals. This will increase their sense of commitment and empowerment.
  • Ensure that your team’s goals align with the organization’s goals.
  • Enhance your team’s motivation and commitment with small wins.setting goals: teamwork

4. Gaining Feedback

In addition to selecting the right goals, you should also listen to feedback, so that you can gauge how well you and your team are progressing. Feedback gives you the opportunity to clarify people’s expectations and adjust the difficulty of their goals. Keep in mind that feedback doesn’t have to come from other people. You can check how well you’re doing by simply measuring your own progress.

How to Give Feedback on Goals

Personal Goal Setting

Team Goal Setting

  • Schedule time once a week to analyze your progress and accomplishments. Look at what has and hasn’t worked, and make adjustments along the way.
  • Ask for feedback from others.
  • Measure progress by breaking difficult or large goals down into smaller chunks, and seek feedback when you reach each milestone.
  • Give team members feedback that’s objective, useful and positive.
  • Create a timetable to schedule regular feedback for your team.Presenter-media-performance-review-boss_looking_over_work_resized-for-web-375x281

5. Considering Task Complexity

Take special care to ensure that work doesn’t become too overwhelming when goals or assignments are highly complex. People who work in complicated and demanding roles can often push themselves too hard, if they don’t take account of the complexity of the task.

How to set Complex and Challenging Goals

Personal Goal Setting

Team Goal Setting

  • Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish complex goals. Set deadlines that apply an appropriate amount of pressure, while still being achievable.
  • If you start to feel stressed about meeting your goals, they might be too complex or unrealistic. Reassess both of these areas and modify your goals if necessary.
  • Break large, complex goals down into smaller sub-goals. This will stop you feeling overwhelmed, and it will make it easier to stay motivated.
  • Your team members might need additional training before they work toward their goal. Give everyone a training needs assessment to identify any knowledge or skills gaps.
  • If you notice that any team members are overwhelmed, consider putting them into a coaching or mentoring relationship with a more experienced colleague.



stick_figure_drawing_three_check_marks_500_clrGoal setting is something that many of us recognize as a vital part of achieving success. To use this tool, set clear, challenging goals and commit yourself to achieving them. Be sure to provide feedback to others on their performance towards achieving their goals, and reflect on your own progress as well. Also, consider the complexity of the task, and break your goals down into smaller chunks, where appropriate.

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Management Skills Level I

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