How to set goals that work?

Goals work when they lead to targeted action. To do this they need to be specific enough for people to understand them, be motivating and be focused on the right areas. When these criteria are met good goals feed in to the cycle of success. A 5 step process for achieving this is


Explore What are the areas that you need to be focusing on to achieve what? This can come from the organisational plan, Personal development plans or local action plans.
Design      Design a set of useful goals for your focus areas. Choose the right types of goals to get the mix of motivation, clarity and results. Choose a model of goals setting to use. Write them down.
Align Make sure that the Goals still match the interests of all the different stakeholders, so the person or team’s goals align with the organisations goals. Or there is enough in a person’s goals to get them motivated.
Deliver Track the delivery of the goals by holding people to account and following up on the measures. Celebrate early wins.
Repeat The world moves on, markets change, people change. Repeat the process sufficiently regularly to keep the goals relevant.


What the research shows

If people feel a goal is ridiculous and unrealistic it does not motivate them Peoples’ performance improves if they are consulted in the design of their goals Writing goals down helps. 

For a more detailed look at the theory behind why goals setting works go and look at this good Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_A._Locke