Are you setting new Goals?
Are you a coach who has to help people define their goals?
Do you have to meet with your boss to set Goals for the New Year?
You know that SMART Goals are Goals that will keep you in your Comfort Zone and will not lead you to explore your potential.
A recent study, conducted by the Washington, DC-based LeadershipIQ research institute in the US on 4000 workers in 397 companies, states that SMART Goals (defined as Specific, Measurable, Accessible, Realistic and Timed) very often act as obstacles to exploring alternative and courageous actions and prevent orientation towards challenging goals, effectively promoting poor and mediocre performance.
These are the results of the research:
15% of employees said that their assigned goals helped them to achieve great projects.
13% of employees agreed that this year’s goals helped them to explore their potential.
The SMART goals seem to say “don’t explore your resources, don’t go overboard, play it safe and stay within your comfort zone”.
But if the ‘SMART’ definition for Goals does not work then what is the alternative?
Researchers have analysed additional elements to identify factors that drive the achievement of great results.
Here are the first eight factors this research found in order of importance and statistical significance:
1. I can imagine how great I will feel when I achieve my goals.
2. I will have to increase my skills to achieve my goals this year.
3. My goals are absolutely necessary to help the society I live in.
4. I have actively participated in defining my goals.
5. I will need resources to access specific training in order to achieve my goals.
6. My goals will take me out of my comfort zone.
7. My goals will enrich the lives of someone other than me (clients, community, etc.).
8. My goals are aligned with my organisation’s priorities.
Reading this research, I realised that the relevant factors can be attributed to the 6 macro areas of motivational preferences that we convey during our training courses.
I am convinced that the exploration of the Learning Zone is not so immediate and that is why I have always urged my coachees to get out of the Comfort Zone, because only in moments of discomfort and difficulty can we learn something new.
I often hear phrases such as ‘this thing is impossible’, ‘I just can’t do it’ because the person does not recognise his or her potential at that time.
But how many people thought they couldn’t do a certain thing and with the right leverage have succeeded? Those who achieve extraordinary results have developed one of the most valuable talents: motivating themselves and others. And the engine of motivation is always one: emotion, passion.
When we perform an activity that we enjoy, that stimulates us, that we are passionate about, and our involvement and concentration are such that we lose awareness of our surroundings, we experience a true ‘state of grace’, in which our abilities and the challenges we are facing are balanced. Once we have achieved this well-being, we desire to relive the same experience to such an extent that we aspire to ever higher challenges.
When was the last time you reached a goal and felt this way?
It is clear from research that individuals want their goals to contribute to something bigger than themselves, be it the company, customers or the community at large. This result contradicts the stereotype of the selfish manager who seeks to maximise his own personal gain unaware of the impact his actions have on others and not caring about the macro context of his business.
Many companies have embedded the SMART definition within their performance appraisal systems and for many, business models and procedures are closely linked to very often unshared objectives.
This will not change anytime soon but I think this research should spur leaders, coaches and all managers to look beyond, to believe in the potential of their own resources and to make people future-oriented by abandoning the evaluation of the past as a predictive parameter.
Let’s discuss goals with our team members, push them to demand more of themselves, push them to be better than they think they are, get them out of their comfort zone, inspire them and talk about the future.
We must believe that the impossible does not exist, we define it as such and that is why we make it real.