Setting business, team and individual goals at the beginning of the year is one of the most crucial steps to planning in Q1, regardless of your industry. The problem, as we’re seeing for a third year, is the unpredictability of the world of work and evolving hybrid strategies. You either achieved your 2021 plans in spite of the pandemic or missed them partly due to it.
That’s why we have to be smart about the way we frame our goals for 2022. We can’t afford to set them carelessly and pivot to the next task, especially with how rapidly policies and attitudes are changing. The best way to beat unforeseen setbacks is by being proactive.
There are plenty of factors that separate a great set of new goals from a bad set, including format, intentions, and the way they’re coached. Here’s some of the factors that we think make a great approach to long-term goals:
SMART goals or OKRs?
Formatting your goals is especially important when they’re longer term, as you have more factors to keep in line. An objective like, “Land 100 clients this year,” is doomed without more contextual information to support it.
That’s why several popular goal strategies have arisen over the last few decades, including SMART goals, developed by Robert S. Rubin. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, denoting the type of goals you should be striving to set. When actually writing out the goal, fill out this mini-template:
Action Verb -> Results in Measurable Terms -> By When
Example: Lead two ad campaigns that help land & retain 100 clients by 2023
Another massively popular goal-setting strategy is the OKR method, developed by Andy Grove. OKRs, which stand for Objectives/Key Results, are designed to give a structure to long term plans like New Year’s goals. First, you create an Objective – a clear destination that will propel your business forward. Underneath, you construct three to five Key Results – measurable, specific goals that your team can achieve in order to further your Objective.
Think of the Key Results as steps to completing your one-year Objective. What sets them apart from a basic step program, though, is the importance of Key Results being measurable and completable.
Objective – Clear our physics program for launch by the end of Q4
Key Result 1 – Develop a debugging tool for physics simulations
Key Result 2 – Finish a complete design for the program’s user interface
Key Result 3 – Release a beta build to select customers in Q3
In this case, you might want to launch your program by the end of the year, but that alone is too broad of an objective. That’s where your Key Results come in, demonstrating why the OKR method is a great choice for your New Year’s goal(s).
OKRs and SMART goals are somewhat similar, but you’ll get a great picture of which method works best for you once you lay out exactly what you want to achieve and when.
The Design Phase
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly what goals to create, because I don’t work for your company. However, I do have some advice and approaches to offer that you can use to plug into your own 2022 plans.
First, tie your goal to your mission statement. Ensuring that your end objective matches up with the theme – even the wording – of your company’s mission aligns your team with your organizational vision and therefore motivates them to work towards that end.
The next thing to consider are your A.C.E.S.: the action items you do want to hit this year. ACES stands for…
Achieve – What do you want to attain in the future?
Conserve – What do you want to hang on to?
Eliminate – What do you want to get rid of?
Steer clear – What do you want to avoid?
Checking through your ACES can quickly reveal more goals you should create for the upcoming year, especially on the removal side. Sometimes it’s just as helpful to subtract from your plate as it is to add to it.
Finally, it’s helpful to cover all your bases. If you’re implementing multiple goals, try to make sure they’re all slightly different types of goals to avoid overlapping. Outside of formatting, there are about five different categories of goals:
- Day-to-Day Work Goals – Directed at increasing your company’s everyday effectiveness
- Problem-Solving Goals – Problems that face your company or position
- Development Goals – Encourage the acquisition of new skills and expertise
- Innovation Goals – Identify innovative approaches that could help make your company more effective in the future
- Profitability Goals – Set your sights on where you want your bottom line to be
Setting one goal to match each category might be a bit overwhelming for your team, but it is helpful to hit two or three of the ones you find most important. It also reveals a pit that some leaders fall into: making all your goals the same type. If all your goals were profitability-based, for example, you could miss out on fixing some day-to-day issues.
So, if you check your ACES and cover your bases, you’ll “see the sign” and it’ll “open up your eyes” to an easier way to set goals for 2022!
Tracking Your Goals
The biggest mistake a lot of people-leaders make is “setting and forgetting”: neglecting to follow up on goals throughout the year. Periodically reminding your team and/or putting your goals up on the bulletin board may be a step in the right direction, but it’s not nearly enough either.
Always at least check in on goal progress in both one-on-one and team meetings, especially when you have OKRs with shorter term Key Results. Your employees will definitely focus on furthering goal progress more when they know they’ll be reporting their status every week.
While you’re leading these meetings, remember to encourage your team members to ask for support along the way if they have questions or need assistance. You don’t want employees letting issues unravel all week until they get to talk about them at the team meeting, leading to missed deadlines and confusion. Nip any hangups in the bud right away.
Finally, make sure to track progress on goals publicly. Even if you’re not looking at Key Results in your OKRs, you probably know what steps can further your year-end goals and what checkpoints are good to hit at the end of quarters. When your whole team can see what parts of the mission are chugging along and what parts are falling behind, they’ll be able to rally to fix what’s not working and get the train back on track.
In-person teams will be able to discuss and track goals in meetings or on a community bulletin board, but as we all know, the typical office environment has become a lot rarer in the 2020s. If you’ve got a remote team that you wish you could bring together in the same way, there’s a lot of goal-tracking software available digitally that helps you do just that.
You could even consider promising incentives to your team if they reach their objective, whether a large one at the end of the year or smaller ones once they hit Key Results/quarterly goals. There are no bigger motivators than incentives and recognition – nail both to motivate your team and boost your company’s culture.
If you want to learn even more, check out our Goal Setting Best Practices Guide! Go forth and get something huge done in 2022!