Goal Setting in Business – It’s Just a Game!

I am passionate about sport, and have coached at various levels in various sports for many years.
 Regardless of the level of player skill or ability of a team, I have always found setting goals with players helps motivate and focus their efforts on what we agree we want to achieve.

Goal setting is a great way to motivate your players (staff) in either the long term (whole season/financial year) or short term (game by game/project by project).

For the best results, engage your players in the process of setting their goals.
 If you simply tell them “these are your goals for today” they are less likely to embrace the challenge, whereas if they have set the goals themselves, or had input to they will be more motivated to reach them.

The goals they set need to be SMART so they can see easily if they have achieved them.
 They should also be positive rather than negative goals. For example, when coaching my son’s soccer (err, I mean football) team and I wanted them to focus on possession, the games objective maybe “we’re not going to put in any bad passes today” rather than “today we are going to make all our passes accurate”.

So what are SMART goals?

  • Specific: Goals should be specific for an individual player or for the team in a particular game. They should also relate to a specific skill or area of the game. Rather than “we are going to win today” make the goal “we are going to win 90% of the 50-50 balls today”. Remember that 100% is not realistic.
  • Measurable: You must be able to measure the goal to see if it has been achieved, so think about how you can accurately do this. For instance, counting successful tackles for individuals or the team.
  • Adaptable: There will be times when you realise that a goal is totally unachievable (often for reasons out of your control). In these cases you need to be able to adapt the goal to make it more realistic. (NOTE – the ‘A’ in SMART goals is often seen as ‘Achievable’, but personally I believe this is covered by goals being Realistic.)
  • Realistic: There’s no point having goals that are completely unrealistic. Don’t have a goal to beat the team you haven’t beaten in five years by 10-0, it’s not going to happen (this season)! At the same time, goals must challenge the players as individuals and as a team.
  • Time frame: You need to set a time frame to achieve the goals, “we are going to achieve this by next week” or “in the second half we are going to …”.

So how can this be applied to business? In exactly the way he was suggesting it be applied to football coaching. Make sure you set goals, and that these goals are:

  1. Specific

  2. Measurable

  3. Adaptable

  4. Realistic
  5. Time based.

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