For many people, the goal setting process starts with a lot of hype at the beginning of the year then eventually starts to wane before the end of the first quarter. It’s common to lose motivation and the reason isn’t because people lose interest in the goal itself but, more often, because the goal they set for themselves simply didn’t follow a criteria that set them up for success. 

Below, we’ve highlighted how to set goals that are more effective and lead to higher performance. Here are 4 tips for getting more from goal-setting personally, and with your team.  

Make Sure Your Goals Are SMART 

The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

S: Specific 

In order for a goal to be effective, you must define exactly what the goal is. Making it specific means being clear about what you want to achieve. It can help to ask questions like: 

  • What needs to be done? 
  • Who is responsible for it? 
  • What tasks need to be completed? 

EXAMPLE: Increase our overall number of conversions on the phone in the electronics department. 

M: Measurable

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. In this step, you’ll want to put a specific quantity so that you can track progress and know when you’ve reached your goal. 

EXAMPLE: Increase our overall number of conversions on the phone in the electronics department from 5 out of 10 to 7 out of 10. 

A: Achievable 

This step is your built-in reality check. At this stage you want to make sure your goals are reasonable. Good questions to ask could be: 

  • Are we being realistic? 
  • Are we overshooting or being too ambitious? 
  • Are we setting ourselves up for success? 

Another important dynamic to consider with this step is who is responsible for the goal. It can be difficult to gauge what is realistic if you are creating the goal for another person or group of people. In this case, it’s often more effective to ask the people who are executing the work whether the goal is realistic or not. This is how to set goals that are well-connected with the big picture and the people involved. 

R: Relevant 

In this stage, you will be analyzing the purpose of the goal and why you are setting it. This ensures that the details of what you are outlining actually tie back to the overall purpose. This will keep you from setting goals that are disconnected from your vision. 

EXAMPLE:  Increase our overall number of conversions on the phone in the electronics department from 5 out of 10 to 7 out of 10 so that we can improve the sales for the company this quarter. 

 T: Time-Bound 

Finally, making sure that your goal is time-bound and has a clear due date is one of the most important steps in this process. This step helps you and your team identify the timeframe you are working in and can be a great tool in helping to set the end point and work your way back through in order to outline the steps to get there. 

 EXAMPLE:  Increase our overall number of conversions on the phone in the electronics department from 5 out of 10 to 7 out of 10 so that we can improve the sales for the company this quarter. We will achieve this by November 15th, 2022. 

Using the SMART goal process can help ensure your goals are clearly defined, attainable within a defined time frame, and being measured. This approach removes the temptation to guess and make generalities. It also makes a strong measuring tool to track progress and adjust your efforts as needed.

Build On What’s Working Well

Strengths-based goal setting adopts the CliftonStrengths method of focusing on the areas where you’re already strong and then exploits that for better results. Whereas, traditional goal-setting usually has too much focus on what needs to be improved or repaired. 

It’s not as if making improvements and repairs has no place in your goal setting process, but strengths-based goal setting forces the question “what are we already doing right?” This is about how to set goals that consider your strengths and the strengths of your collective team and figure out how you can build on what is already working well.  

Traditional goal-setting may cause you to focus so closely on the problem you’re working around that you can only see standard solutions for solving the problem. With strengths-based goal-setting, you are able to look for creative solutions and unexpected approaches that use the existing talents and skills of your team. 

Focus On The WHO

Goal setting tools like the SMART goal system are great at identifying the details of what, when, and how, but another, more important aspect to consider is the detail of WHO. 

“Are YOU the right person to act on that or, is there someone with different strengths who might be a better fit?” In the process of goal-setting, your planning takes on new life as you consider where you might need help, if you’re the right person to lead the project, or if you might need to adjust the people involved so they are working within their strengths to handle the tasks. 

In addition, when setting personal goals, strengths-based goal setting encourages you to look at how you can improve and lean into the strengths you already have instead of trying to reengineer yourself in some way that doesn’t really serve you (or your team). 

The four CliftonStrengths domains — strategic thinking, relationship building, influencing and executing — can help you both categorize your goals and also understand how to use your strengths to achieve them.

For example, if you have a goal to increase customer engagement you might place your strategic-thinking employees on the task of crafting the best plan, then ask for the support of team members with executing themes to take action on the behind-the-scenes tasks, and finally, lean on your relationship-building and influencing team-members to actually engage with clients and encourage interaction.

how to set goals with cliftonstrengths

For more information about the CliftonStrengths domain and themes, read our Complete Guide To The StrengthsFinder List

How to Set Goals That Look Beyond The Stats

Another way to set goals so that they result in high-performance is to consider the big picture. As leaders, it’s tempting to look at the bottom line and quarterly figures and want to set very data-specific metrics. However, behind all of that data or increase in sales are people. There are people who are performing to make those figures a reality and people on the other end who you’re interacting with to grow your company. 

Many leaders overlook the value of including well-being and engagement in their company goals. If you want to take goal-setting to the next level for your team, we recommend focusing on how to set goals that center around the betterment of your people and your culture. 

Gallup references the 12 engagement elements that you can use as a reference to evaluate your team and select some specific areas where you’d like to focus and improve. 

When you are able to combine a SMART goal with the strengths-based approach the helps you get creative in how to tackle it, specify who the best people are to handle it, and how you can be mindful of well-being and engagement while you tackle it, you can take your process to the next level and ensure you are setting goals that are most likely to lead to higher performance.