This might be a little nit-picky, but, there is a difference between goals and objectives. Goals, by nature, are not particularly SMART…you know:
These are actually the characteristics of well-defined objectives. You measure your progress toward achievement of goals through objectives. Objectives support goals.
We said that goals are not particularly SMART. That is more than just a cute play on words and acronyms. Goals are more of a destination – more like an “Are we there yet?”
SMART objectives invite you to be realistic and in a hurry. Goals invite you to dream big and be more concerned with the getting there than the speed with which you do.
That’s why we take a little bit of umbrage with this article at Entrepreneur entitled Set Goals for Your Employees. Don’t get us wrong, we completely agree with setting goals for employees.
And at the risk of sounding a little Sheldon Cooper-ish, we actually do agree with the content of the article – as long as you substitute the word “objective” in 95% of the instances the article actually uses the word “goal.”
With that in mind, here are a few comments on the main points/recommendations of the article:
- “Set goals with employees” – Yes! We love it. This is part of including your employees in developing the strategy. It adds buy-in and promotes an environment in which employees are engaged.
- “Reevaluate goals frequently” – No! Not unless you frequently change your mind about where you want to go (a goal is a destination). But do frequently evaluate objectives.
- “Make goals specific and measurable” – No! Goals are decidedly grandiose and not measurable in themselves. Make supporting objectives SMART which includes their being specific and measurable.
- “Goals don’t have to be tied to sales” – Correct! Nor profits. We like value-based goals as opposed to profit and sales driven goals. Focus on the types of goals that will really get employees engaged in the business on an emotional level.
- “Make sure employees goals are attainable” – No! Goals are big and lofty. Never measure an employee’s performance based on big, lofty goals. Rather, do it on objectives, which, yes, should be attainable.
- “Be consistent” – Absolutely. And you can start by consistently not misusing the word “goal” in place of the word “objective.”
- “Watch your timing” – Wrong! Not for goals. They are long term. Objectives are time-bound.
- “Avoid rivalry” – Ehhhh….this one feels a little like “everyone gets a participation trophy.” A little FRIENDLY rivalry in-house can be healthy. Just don’t allow it to create clicks and jerks.
- “Set goals that tie employees into the success of your company” – Correct! Set objectives that tie employees into the success of your company.
This might all sound a little nit-picky, but it is important to remember the distinction between goals and objectives. Know the difference and plan accordingly.