Setting goals and plotting a plan to achieve them is a crucial part of business success. Most goals home business owners set can be easily quantified and measured, such as sales numbers, income amounts, or website traffic.
To achieve these goals, you need to have a variety of business and management skills, such as communication and leadership. But what if these are areas you need improvement on as well?
Setting a SMART goal to improve communication, leadership, and other soft skills is challenging because progress on these skills is more difficult to quantify and measure. Here are tips to creating SMART leadership goals:
What are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are accomplishments you set to achieve that are:
- Specific: What exactly do you want to achieve? Making more money or improving communication are vague goals. Making $10,000 per month or reducing the number of questions asked by your team by 25% is more specific.
- Measurable: What is the goalpost that lets you know you achieved your goal? Making $10,000 is measurable. Soft skills can be more difficult to measure, but the tips below will help you design a mechanism to know if you’re making progress.
- Attainable: While your goals should challenge you, they shouldn’t be impossible. Set goals that you are able to achieve through specific actions.
- Relevant: Your goals should enhance and make sense to the project you’re working on.
- Timeliness: When do you want to achieve your goal? Set a deadline that forces you to take action, but doesn’t make your goal unattainable.
Setting Leadership SMART Goals
The first step in improving your leadership skills is to decide what areas to focus on. A good leader is skilled in:
- All forms of communication, including verbal, written and nonverbal
- Inspiring and motivating others
- Providing direction
- Assessing situations and making decisions
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Ability to work with a team
‘Being a better leader’ is too vague a goal to work towards. Instead, pick a leadership skill and set a SMART goal around it. Here are the steps to set SMART goals around leadership.
Define your end result. If your goal is to inspire your team or improve communication, what does that look like in the real world? Is your team smiling or achieving more? Are they asking fewer questions and completing projects faster?
What areas of your goal can achieve your end result? If your goal is to inspire, what do you need to improve on to achieve that? Do you need to offer positive feedback, incentives, or simply smile more? If you want to improve communication, what aspect do you need to work on? Are you falling short when it comes to email communications or is your verbal direction the real problem? Do you need to improve on clarity or tone in your communication?
Set up metrics to know you’ve achieved your goal. This is hard with soft skills because they’re difficult to measure. How do you know if you’ve inspired your team? The key to measuring soft skills is to go back to your end result to create measures. For example, to gauge if productivity is up, you could use feedback and questionnaires from your team. Decide on the data you’ll collect to track and measure your results.
When setting goals around soft skills, it’s important to measure your baseline. If your goal is to witness a reduction in questions by your team to determine if you’re communicating better, you would need to count how many questions you’re getting when you start, in order to know for certain if you’ve achieved your goal when the deadline approaches.
Leadership Smart Goals Examples
Here are a few examples of SMART goals set around improving leadership skills.
Goal: Inspire and Motivate Team Members
- Specific: Inspire and motivate team members to improve productivity by 25% and morale as indicated by team member feedback.
- Measurable: Increase productivity as measured by 25% quicker project completion and team member reported satisfaction survey.
- Attainable: Provide the team with project management tools and training to support their projects, foster an atmosphere of collaboration among team members, and provide constructive and positive feedback through weekly check-ins with team members.
- Relevant: Inspiring team members will increase productivity and morale, increasing the number of projects completed, and reducing the time team members are unfocused or take time off.
- Timeliness: Achieve 25% improvement in the time it takes to complete projects and show team-member reports of work satisfaction in six months.
Goal: Improve Communication to the Team
- Specific: Develop presentation skills that lead to 30% fewer questions during team meetings.
- Measurable: Reduction of questions during meetings by 30%.
- Attainable: Attend a workshop on presentation skills and join Toastmasters.
- Relevant: Developing presentation skills will improve the clarity of my message, thereby increasing comprehension by the team, and save time wasted by answering questions.
- Timeliness: 30% improvement in communication at meetings in six months.
Beyond SMART Goals
As you work to achieve your goals, make sure you’re also assessing the progress you’re making, and tweak the plan if needed. For example, if a weekly check-in with your team is actually making them feel more stressed and micro-managed instead of inspired, you should re-evaluate the need for that step.