5 Principles for creating successful goals

When goal setting is done well, it provides you and your team with motivational objectives that outline what needs to be done and by when so you can understand progress against them.

Motivation and job performance will be higher when four conditions are met;

  1. Goals are clear and specific,
  2. Goals should be challenging for the individual,
  3. People are committed to achieving the goals,
  4. Leaders provide feedback on their team’s progress against the goals.

If people are motivated by the goals that are set for them and they’re able to complete them.

The 4CF framework contains 5 principles for creating successful goals.

  • Clarity. The goal should clearly state what it is that you want to achieve so that both you and the person you’re setting the goal with have a shared understanding of what success looks like. It’s also important that you’re clear about when this goal needs to be reached.
  • Challenge. Now that your goal is clear. It’s important that it’s sufficiently challenging to be motivational for the person you’ve set it for, for this to be successful, you’ll need to work to understand the capabilities and aspirations of your team members, bearing in mind different people will have different levels of capability and ambition.
  • Complexity. Goals that are overly complex or even contradictory won’t support achievement or motivate of your team. However, you work in a complex world in one of the most complex organisational systems in the world where there are a huge number of competing demands that set in the complexity. Creating clear goals with your team members can help motivate them to get things done. Part of a team leader’s role is to help their people navigate the complexity of the world we’re operating in. The key to preventing goals from becoming overly complex is to maintain an ongoing dialogue. Someone may initially be comfortable with a goal and then find they face issues they didn’t expect once they start.
  • Commitment. It can be tempting when you’re first leading a team to see your team members as resources who can help get things done, and therefore you just need to set them their goals and the team will achieve what it needs to. The most productive way to gain commitment to your goals from your team is to actively involve them in setting them in the first place.
  • Feedback. Once goals have been agreed, it’s important that you revisit them with your team members and have an ongoing dialogue and feedback on progress to this goal, without this ongoing dialogue, your team members may not feel comfortable sharing that they’ve uncovered something which needs to be sorted in order for them to achieve the goal. Also, without feedback, the person will not know if they’re doing the right things. Ongoing validation should help maintain and even increase commitment to delivering the goal over time. This can be especially useful when talking about objectives agreed at appraisal time. The more often these goals are revisited and discussed, the more useful they will be to the individual and team success.

A part of the Mary Seacole programme developed by the NHS Leadership Academy.