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Why SMART Goals Don’t Cut It

Jun 07, 2017 (0) comment

Individual goal setting is the key to an organisation’s success. Yet it is a skill that few sales people or sales leaders have managed to execute in a way that has meaningful impact. The lack of real goal setting in teams has a major impact on the sales people and the bottom line. For example:

  • Costly and short-lived incentive driven motivations
  • Low quality of sale
  • Low performance and loss of revenue between incentive initiatives
  • Unrealistic remuneration expectations
  • Poor staff engagement leading to high staff turnover
  • Conflict between departments and with management

The list goes on.

For many a decade, we have been taught about the fabulous SMART principle, later evolved into the SMARTER and more recently the SMARTEST principle. Whilst I believe that this principle is spot on by way of providing clarity in what goal we would like to achieve and how we would plan to achieve it, it does not solve for pushing through the challenges of real life distractions.

So, when I plan my goals, I lean on a principle that a brilliant leader I worked for in the past spoke of often – The principle of: The Head, The Hands and The Heart (HHH). Admittedly I have taken the principle a little out of context to align it with the concept of a goal setting, however, it does provide a more holistic framework to create deeper relevance for the person who is setting the goal. This relevance is what ensures actual implementation of the goal no matter what, thus creating stability and certainty of success.

It may be quite nice at this point for you to download your FREE GOAL SETTING TEMPLATE WITH EXAMPLE so you can refer to it as we work through unpacking the tool in the points below.

Let’s break down the HHH principle in the context of goal setting: Head, Hands and Heart

  • THE HEAD: – gives clarity – what, how and when

The head essentially is the SMART principle. You work out a specific goal which is divided into measurable, achievable and time-bound objectives.

  • THE HANDS: – inspires action and accountability

The hands are the people you trust to honour your goal as important. They are your accountability partners and inspire action no matter what. In my case, I posted my goals on social media (click here if you would like to link to that post), which meant that I created followers, friends and business partners that would act as my accountability partners. When I was fought down with a family epidemic of flu and lack of sleep, I was aware that my followers believed in me and I didn’t want to let them down.

Often the onus is on a manager to hold someone accountable to their goals. Whilst I do not dispute their intentions, if there is not a true relationship between them, the motivation is not authentic and can come across as negative pressure rather than motivation.

A far more effective approach for a leader to support goal setting is to let a team member take personal ownership for their goals. Let them set their own goals and allow them to choose their own accountability partners.

The hands can be anybody. The more accountability partners you have, the more accountable you must be, so if you can, I would go with a minimum of 4 people.  Eg. family, friends, colleagues, business partners, manager, mentor, coach or even a group of people.

It’s important, that you have respect for them, that you trust them and that they motivate you. This also gives you the ability to build your goals into your life rather than just the workplace.

  • THE HEART: provides motivation

The heart is about motivation that is true to you – the person setting the goal.

There are two types of motivation: Positive motivation and negative motivation, which is explained and illustrated in the study of neurosciences as the pain vs pleasure principle. The studies of this principle tell us that people work harder to avoid pain than they do to gain pleasure. That is how humans are wired. Our body releases hormones that force us to act when we are threatened. We know this as the fight or flight response.

The heart encompasses both forms of motivation. The positive motivation is the pleasure of visualizing what success will look like once we achieve the goal. This is good for when life is going according to our plan. But when life gets you down and you need a real kick up the ass, then the negative motivation is just the right amount of scary to get you going. 

In my scenario, the consequence of my followers seeing me fail in my goals so publicly, as well as the thought of me and my brand losing integrity, was a greater pain than the flu. As a result, I decided to fight through the pain of the flu and run away from the threat of seeing my business crumble. In my circumstance, the motivation to move on that dreadful reality was more powerful than my pleasurable goal, which is my vision of being a successful thought leader and business woman.

The HHH principle, provides a more holistic approach to goal setting and will give sales leadership and sales people an opportunity to:

  • Embed goal setting into their lives, past just the expectation of the organization
  • Take personal accountability for their success
  • Be motivated in a way that is real to them and sustainable for all

Whether you are a sales person looking to be better at what you do, or a sales leader looking to empower your people, goal setting is the very first place you should start.

In the meantime, I challenge you to make your goals public and commit to your success. Remember to #achievemygoals. For inspiration and tips to a great sales career, you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram as I achieve my own goals, or feel free to contact me via my contacts page.

I operate as a Freelance Sales Effectiveness Consultant, working together with small to large businesses on either short term or long term projects offering support in Sales Strategy, Training, Sales Processes and other tailored solutions to your business needs.

All posts by: Shirley Anderson

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