7-Step Goal Setting For Managers Guide to Better Results

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Management Goal Setting Starts With A SMART Process

Do you need tips about how to set management goals? The trick is using a good process.

Thus, this post will share my 7-step goal-setting for managers guide. I used these same management goal-setting steps during my 30-year business career to achieve excellent results.

Let’s jump right in.

Goal Setting For Managers: A Proven 7-Step Process

Management goal-setting is important for the success and growth of individuals, departments, and the entire organization. Thus, managers must use an effective goal-setting process in their professional development activities.

I recommend the following seven steps:

  1. Understand the organization
  2. Assess your current state
  3. Brainstorm possible management goals
  4. Select your goals
  5. Use SMART goals
  6. Make a plan and act on it
  7. Create a results-based environment

Next, let’s go through each step in detail.

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Step 1: Understand Organization-Wide Management Goals

Managers must perform goal setting within the context of the larger organization. Thus, productive goal setting for managers starts with a firm understanding of organization-wide vision, management strategy, and goals.

Here’s what to look for at your organization:

Vision: The ultimate purpose for existing.

Example vision statement: Become the largest producer of toasters for home use.

Strategy: The organization’s overall approach to achieving the vision.

Example strategy: Be the low-cost producer to capture the largest market share.

Goals: Specific outcomes the organization desires to achieve.

Example goal: Reduce operating costs by 5% annually.

With a firm grasp of what your company is trying to achieve, it’s time for step 2 in today’s guide to goal setting for managers.

Step 2: Before Selecting Any Management Goals, Assess Your Functions Current State

Managerial goal setting is a journey, and every journey has a starting point. Therefore, goal setting in management requires an honest and thorough evaluation of you and your function’s current state.

Assess your current state by using a SWOT analysis. To do so, objectively determine and document your functions:

Strengths are those things you and your team members do well.

Weaknesses are areas where you and your team need to improve.

Opportunities are possibilities to exploit emerging trends, events, or situations.

Threats are trends, events, or situations that may undermine your effectiveness.

Okay. With the first two steps in today’s guide completed, you are now ready to identify potential goals.

Step 3: Brainstorm Management Goals For Your Function And Yourself

Management goal setting requires a constructive brainstorming session. Thus, pull together a small group of key team members and stakeholders your function serves.

Managerial goal-setting brainstorming session best practices include:

  • Focus on quantity
  • Be absent of criticism
  • Stay focused on the topic
  • Welcome creative ideas
  • Be limited to one conversation at a time

A productive brainstorming session allows you and your team to escape your comfort zone in a safe setting. When done, you should have a long list of possible development goals.

Our next step moves you from a long list to a shortlist.

Step 4: Select Your Management Goals

Goal setting for managers requires selecting the right items from the long list of possibilities you and your brainstorming team developed. The correct number of management goals you choose is up to you.

Here’s how to narrow them down.

First, only choose development goals that align with those of the organization. Toss the others aside.

Let’s go back to our examples in step 1. Your company wants to be the low-cost producer of toasters for home use. Thus, goals that require adding staff, resources, and expenses do not align with the organization. Therefore, toss them out.

Second, prioritize management goals that address one or more weaknesses, opportunities, or threats.

Third, make sure each goal is achievable and relevant. This point brings me to step five in today’s manager goal-setting guide.

Step 5: Goal-Setting Managers Use SMART Goals

I recommend managers use the SMART system to document their goals.

SMART goals for managers have the following characteristics:

Specific.  Include as much detail as possible about the outcome you expect to achieve.

Measurable. Determine how you will measure progress and ultimate achievement.

Achievable. Ensure goal achievement is possible and you have the resources to see it through.

Relevant. Ensure each goal makes sense for your function and the organization you serve.

Time-bound. Set a deadline for each goal, including milestones for complex long-term goals.

Step 6: Each Management Goal Must Have An Action Plan

Managerial goal-setting requires an action plan for each chosen goal.

To create your plans, break each management goal into tasks and tools.

First, your objectives are identifiable and measurable steps, tasks, and actions to achieve a goal.

Second, tactics are tools and methods used in pursuing your objectives.

Then, to further your managerial goal planning, establish a timeline for every significant step. Make sure your milestones are realistic. Anticipate obstacles and make contingency plans.

Okay. You have set your personal goals. However, one critical step remains in today’s goal-setting guide for managers.

Let’s cover step seven before I wrap up.

Step 7: Create An Environment And Culture That Gets Results

Management goal setting often fails because of this final step, #7. I have seen it too many times.

Tracking, managing, and keeping people motivated is more challenging than identifying, setting, and planning goals.

So, as a manager, you must create an environment that breeds success. Here are some tips for doing so:

  • Communicate goals to your team
  • Use effective employee motivation techniques
  • Create commitment and urgency
  • Provide constructive feedback
  • Gather support and energy from others
  • Maintain a positive atmosphere
  • Frequently assess progress against the plans
  • Adapt to changing circumstances
  • Learn from setbacks
  • Recognize and reward accomplishments

Okay. That completes my 7-step management goal-setting guide. So, please allow me to close with some final thoughts.

Goal Setting For Managers: Final Thoughts

Managers must set goals at work to stay focused and organize their team’s efforts.

Effective management goal setting requires time upfront to define precise and relevant outcomes and the plans to achieve those outcomes. However, the time investment pays off because following a proven management goal-setting process allows you to set lofty goals and increase the odds of achieving them.

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Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

Setting Goals For Managers Fully Explained