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3 Simple Questions to Easily Set Great Goals

By Bennett Fisher

There is no shortage of information out there about goal setting these days.

I think we can all agree that setting goals for yourself and your team is a valuable exercise to drive high performing teams. It helps ensure everyone is on the same page. It helps you commit to working towards a specific milestone. And it helps everyone feel more invested in the company’s overall success.

So, which goal methodology should you embrace? Here are a few popular ones you’ve probably heard of:

MBOs The management by objectives methodology was made popular by Peter Drucker’s book The Practice of Management in the mid 50’s. Even today, it’s still a tried and true favorite for many organizations.

The MBO process is a top down approach that starts with setting objectives for the entire organization and flows down to each individual employee. All goals are monitored and employees are rewarded for successful achievement.

OKRs The objectives and key results methodology was created by Andy Grove at Intel. It is less focused on an overall process and more about the individual goals themselves. It is made up of two parts – objective statements and associated key results that are the specific requirements that are measured and monitored.

One of the benefits of using OKRs is that the objectives can be long-lived as they aren’t tied to a larger, annual process like MBOs. You can roll them over quarter to quarter or year to year and just set new key results against them.

SMART Goals This is another popular approach intended to make goals clear and actionable. It stands for - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

SMART goals are easy to use by anyone without specific training needed. That said, some people believe that they don’t work well for long-term goals as it could lack flexibility and restrict creativity.

Honestly, any of these approaches are great and would probably work just fine.

At Pulsify, we’re all about keeping things super simple though so we use an even more streamlined approach. Here are the 3 simple questions we use to help set great goals and maximize team management.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Many people have trouble even getting the goal process started.

Our recommendation is to just throw out a raw statement that relates to what you want or need to get done and go from there. It doesn’t have to be over-thought or complicated.

Seriously, just write something down. Like this:

Grow sales.

Ink new partnerships.

Raise money.

Once you have that first cut, try to refine it and make it more specific.

Could you better define the action you wrote? Could you somehow limit its reach? Is there a subset of the population that the goal is more applicable to? Dial it in however you can.

Ultimately, the goal (pun intended) is to arrive at something where you and everyone reading it knows exactly what it means without having to question it.

Why? Such that what happens?

This is always our second question and where you get to channel your inner second grader.

You want to grow sales? Great. Why?

You want to ink new partnerships? Awesome. Such that what happens?

You want to raise money? Phenomenal. Why?

Humans are intellectual creatures and curious by nature. We all want to know and frankly we understand better when we have as much context as possible.

So, put that context in the goal so you and anyone reading it can fully understand what you are going for.

With that in mind, here are the revised examples with context added:

Grow sales so we can be breakeven as a company.

Ink new partnerships to corner the market and keep competitors out.

Raise money so we can go from 1M to 10M users.

Context not only helps anchor the guideposts, but it also plays to people’s emotions which creates an even stronger desire to achieve it and be successful.

Is the outcome clear and measurable?

If your goals are still feeling a bit ambiguous, like the ones above, this question should take care of it:

‘Grow sales’ is still undefined. By how much? Do you have a specific target number?

‘Ink new partnerships’…just 1 partnership? 15? Are all partnerships created equal?

And how much money do you want to raise? Is there a preferred investor base?

Again, a great goal never has any grey area…it should be very clear at the end of the period whether it was achieved or not, no discussion necessary.

Here are some related edits to our continued example:

Grow our B2B sales by $10M so we can be breakeven as a company.

Ink 5 new partnerships with industry leaders to corner the market and keep competitors out.

Raise $10M from top tier investors so we can go from 1M to 10M users.

Goal setting is an incredibly powerful exercise if a process is followed. The 3 questions we have laid out here will provide a framework that enables all managers to create winning goals quickly and easily. And if you need any help, check out Pulsify’s manager augmentation platform to assist you in successfully setting and tracking your goals no matter what approach you use!


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