“SMART rules & reward goals_EiB_104.5”

Topic 4 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Here we are at topic 4 already – the title is “SMART rules and reward goals”…

In this 3 pack episode we talk about an old favorite of many – the SMART goal setting tool, but incorporate it with a more modern flavor, leveraging off the gaming world and what has made this phenomenon so popular with the millennials and iGen groups.

And remember that we are using this approach in the context of delegation – i.e. how to get buy-in and positive, sustainable, action towards achievement of those delegated tasks.

There is much debate today about whether the SMART approach to setting goals still works with our younger generations. So during this blog we’ll explore that concept a little deeper and identify a way in which we can utilize the SMART structure whilst modernizing the method.

Let’s start with a review of our target…

The aim here is to delegate our Priority 3 and 2 tasks to a motivated, capable and engaged team in a way where the effort is sustainable – every leaders dream right?

If you have been with us since the beginning of this series you should be starting to realize that there isn’t one single, fast cure all in this equation. Rather it’s a combination of carefully coupled actions (basic skills) which enables the leader to excel. And a large portion of that success revolves around your teams performance.

So in topic 2 “Motivating your future team”, we spent time exploring 7 key triggers for motivating each individual. In topic 3, Creative Delegation Techniques, we took one step further and spoke about assessing each tasks complexity and the teams skills before deciding on the which tasks were best suited for which team member

And do you also recall in the topic 3, we were also careful to add in those “activities of choice”? (this link connects to the recently published book on Silicon Valleys lead coach Bill Campbell, where he discusses the application of this approach)

Now we wish to take this journey one step further by establishing the requirements for each and every delegated task or project. Typically this is where we introduce our SMART acronym and we still do but understand that it’s just the starting point. So let’s move onto this traditional tool and take a closer look at the pro’s and con’s.

SMART is made up of 5 words…

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound – although peak performance versions talk about the need to stretch and challenge the individual and therefore they use the word Ambitious instead of attainable. In itself SMART forms a great guide to work through with employees as you assign the tasks.

Note however that we need clear determinability (meaning we must be able to identify if the “objective is achieved or not achieved” – is really of central importance. There must be a criterion that allows everyone involved to clearly and unmistakably make that determination.

Remember through-out this process, the secret lies in communicating concisely your expectations but also allowing the team member to speak and express their thoughts. “

Based on the employees personal behavior motivators and skills, you would also include during the discussion, the level of support and review that should take place through-out the activity.

At this moment the leader should…

Take the time to make clear, that some additional rules apply as well as those just mentioned above;

  • If the achievement of the objective is endangered, the employee must provide early timely feedback to the leader.
  • The agreed objectives are documented.
  • The leader helps the employee to help themselves.

If you remember our earlier discussions you will recall that we said all 4 of today’s working generations appreciate communications, clarity and feedback, so no real issue so far. In fact, if this part is done correctly it should be a positive and exciting experience for everyone involved. However the outcome is still somewhat predictable.

Now we want you to cast your mind back to Topic 3…

We introduced delegation and in particular something a little extra – the weekly meeting to discuss your project and progress.

This was an important step as recent studies have identified that the psychological effect of “making progress” is critical to sustained motivation. It encourages even higher levels of effort and opens the window to innovation. When coupled with team or peer collaboration you have the chance of unlocking epic and creative, performance improvement.

So a simple, yet effective trigger, is to ensure we are showcasing the various projects and discussing each persons progress whilst obtaining support and feedback from the team.

So why do we bring this up now. Simply because you have the opportunity right here and now at this stage of setting the goals, setting the rules and setting the periods for feedback, to tap into this powerful realization – your ability to design the work to be inherently motivating

You have the foundations laid. They are solid based on everything we have covered to date. Now its time to look at your progress and development of SMART goals and rules and ask yourself if you have created that environment to enable and sustain that great work. Have we bridged the gap between the old ways and the future needs? The gap which academics refer to as Constructive Discontent

Have we enabled the employee to do their work and therefore achieve the all important progress? Have we designed the work to be inherently motivating?

2.35 billion online video gamers worldwide…

To explore this we need to examine closely the way that game designers are thinking. How have they attracted an estimated 2.35 billion online video gamers worldwide collaborating by choice with each other.

It’s worth noting here that more than half of those are based in Asia Pacific. In business we know that today the rules of engagement and buy-in of our employees have changed and therefore we will explore what makes this gaming revolution so attractive to the millennial and iGen workforce.

How can we learn from and tap into this phenomenon to make our work place activities equally enticing across all 4 generations.

Essentially game designers work on three elements – goal driven, challenge intense, immediate feedback, all with the aim of providing a rich experience. Sounds somehow familiar right – so are we that far from a solution.

The great realization is that if we have already acted on the topics 1, 2 & 3 we are very well positioned for this next quantum leap.

The gamers rewards are inherent from their success, based on their own skill and performance – the potential carrot and stick is there but in the back ground, it’s much more intrinsic, driven by a personal desire to do well and receive instant gratification and feedback based on ability and performance.

Have you picked up on that one missing element in most businesses today – it’s the removal of latency. Gamers receive instant feedback on their performance. By contrast many employees have no idea how their performance is seen until the annual performance review. Did the light bulb just come on – do you now see the connection between the weekly progress and team collaboration meetings?

So let’s summarize what we have introduced in this topic 4 video…

  • It’s important that you have already actioned the learnings from Topics 1, 2 & 3. These form the basis for building a strong and successful team and turning your leadership from good to great.
  • We now add to that repertoire with the establishment of the task framework, expectations and ground rules – using the traditional tool called SMART – ensuring that the targets are a stretch and challenging. This is an opportunity for you to sit with each of your team and discuss the project in detail, identifying support and resource requirements.
  • But then the extra element – we introduce as part of this planning is the agreement to participate in weekly meetings to “establish that clear sense of progress”. This is done in collaboration with the team as each project is reviewed – for anyone familiar with the project management technique called Agile you will see similarities here with sprints and regular update meetings

Succeed and win, you fail you lose…

And you probably expect it by now; there are secrets to the way that we need to offer this feedback. In the gamer’s world it is very black and white. Succeed and win, you fail you lose!

Do we or should take a similar harsh approach with our employees and their projects when they aren’t going so well – typically not!

In fact that goes against what we have already introduced. Instead we offer feedback which doesn’t become stuck on the problem and reasons why not, we turn our attention to what needs to be done to get the project back on track.

More on this in our next topic “Feedback strategies”. We look forward to having you join us again for this vital and final step in establishing a high performance team through genuine leadership.

These are basics skills but are coupled with the latest learnings of neuro-science. If you are able to put them in place then you will truly separate yourself from the pack. Bye for now. 

Listen to this podcast on Stitcher

Listen to this podcast on iTunes

Right click and “Save As” to download a copy of this podcast.