As a thought leader, author, educator, and change leadership practitioner, I write a weekly article that benefits leaders who want to improve their organizations using elements of my Humanist Manufacturing framework.
Last week we looked at the fourth essential element of becoming a high-performing company of authentic recognition of goal achievement. As leaders, we need to understand the importance of providing the workforce with a thorough understanding of what they need to accomplish to receive that recognition. We will now explore the need for clearly defining goals and objectives if organizations want to maximize their opportunity to make a high impact.
I am here for a purpose, and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all, and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy. - Og Mandino
Augustine "Og" Mandino II was the best-selling author of The Greatest Salesman in the World. The book sales have exceeded 50 million copies, so his advice appears well-received. I was unaware of him as I was looking for a quote to include, but his resonated with me, given the importance of purpose in my work. We should all achieve great things to maximize the gifts in our care, personally and professionally. At the same time, we should work to do the same for the employees in our areas of responsibility in the workplace. To accomplish this, we must establish clearly defined goals and objectives that maximize everyone's potential, woven seamlessly into a cohesive plan that lifts the organization to the highest mountain top.
Developing SMART goals is an opportunity to foster a clear understanding of expected performance levels. Additionally, it establishes a mutual agreement for the leader and those in their care to focus on what is most important for their professional development, leading to higher organizational success in realizing its objectives. The SMART criteria are:
S Specific - State precisely the expectation of what you want the employee to accomplish.
M Measurable - Establish qualitative and quantitative metrics that you will monitor to gauge progress and success.
A Achievable - Ensure the goal is realistic and attainable through appropriate resource allocation.
R Relevant - Align the goal with the broader organizational goals to accomplish the project's purpose.
T Time-Bound - Set a deadline for achieving the goal, including appropriate milestones to ensure progress.
We set these SMART goals in a manner that properly focuses attention and resources while allowing each member to collectively embrace and realize success in achieving their goals. Doing this with alignment on organizational objectives requires significant work, but the result should be extraordinary if done well.
My forty-five-plus years of experience in the workplace and research on organizational excellence have been witness to the difficulty of achieving significant transformation. It often begins by overlooking the need to develop and communicate a compelling vision. I tell those working on this step to close their eyes and envision the ideal future state. What would they see when observing the employees? What emotions are they expressing, and what are they saying? What does the setting they are working in look like? Who are the customers, and what happens in these interactions? What are the human resource people saying to potential hires, and who wants to work for the company? How does your organization impact the environment and society? These are just a few of the many considerations leaders should explore as they develop a vision for the organization's future.
In his book Leading Change, John Kotter defines vision as: "a picture of the future that implies or comments on why people should work to create this future." He describes three purposes the vision serves:
• The direction of change clarifies hundreds or thousands of decisions.
• The organization's stakeholders are motivated to engage in actions, including some that may be painful, to work strategically to achieve the vision.
• The collective actions are aligned to efficiently and effectively reach the vision.
Once the organization knows the vision, they need to work backward to develop a plan with goals and objectives for each employee. These individual goals must align with the needs of their department. Then they must cohesively align with other departments, allowing the company to attain its vision. The image of a mountain top is appropriate as achieving success in realizing a transformational vision is similar to the planning and effort to scale the highest mountain triumphantly.
Developing SMART goals is an opportunity to foster a clear understanding of expected performance levels. We set these SMART goals in a manner that properly focuses attention and resources while allowing each member to collectively embrace and realize success in achieving their goals. Before setting appropriate goals and objectives, we must develop a compelling vision of the organization's future state and work backward.
Individuals interested in developing SMART goals can use the content provided by Brian Tracy in his How To Set SMART Goals article. He gives an overview of SMART goals, the importance of setting them, how to achieve them, and several examples.
I spent much of my career thinking that others could do similar things that I was capable of doing. One skill I have is the ability to do what I recommend, to close my eyes, and see a vivid image of the future state of an organization. Then, to work backward from that point to develop the many tasks in the proper sequence and interrelated manner to achieve the organizational goals and objectives. I encourage you to develop a similar capability as an individual or a leadership team.
Next week's blog will shift to a review of the essential element of accurate data integral to becoming a humanist manufacturing organization.
To learn more about our work or read more blog posts, visit emmanuelstratgicsustainability.com.
I encourage you to read my book Humanist Manufacturing: A Humanitarian Approach to Excellence in High-Impact Plant Operations. The paperback and eBook versions are now available at Amazon and many other booksellers. You can also view the Humanist Manufacturing Book Launch to gain additional insight into the Humanist Manufacturing framework.
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