Tuesday, February 28, 2012

SMART v. 2.0, Aggressive Goals

This blog looks at another “A-word” to fill out the SMART recipe in which the other letters are Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-Bound.

Last time we looked at “Attainable" goals as an “A” option.  While there are some good reasons to use “Attainable” goals, I pointed out that one important finding from the goal research is:

The more difficult the goal, the higher the level of performance.*

To leverage this finding, my friend Doug Smith uses “Aggressive, yet Achievable” as the “A” for SMART in his excellent book, Make Success Measurable.  The more difficult a goal is set, the more persistent and creative people will be.  They will work harder and perform better.  These are the reasons for setting “Aggressive” goals versus easier “Attainable” goals.

If you are setting goals for yourself, then you will improve your performance by using the Aggressive SMART formula versus the Attainable approach.   The exceptions are if you want to want to build some momentum with some “easy wins,” or if you are setting Learning Goals where you are in new territory, or if you are concerned about getting discouraged.  But if none of these circumstances apply, then set Aggressive goals and watch your performance improve.

However, if you are a boss and you want to implement Aggressive goals for your team then you need to do so carefully.  The first thing you need to look at is your reward system.  Do you punish failure?  If so, then you can expect lots of push back on Aggressive goals.  People will want goals that are easier so they are not punished for failure.

What should you do?  I suggest that you change your reward system to reward performance instead of success.  What’s the difference?

Rewarding for performance starts with setting outcomes for your direct reports.  See my earlier blog about this for more details.  Then you can reward them for their actual performance rather than if they meet a particular goal.

Here’s a quick example.  One of the easiest areas to set outcomes for in the nonprofit world is fundraising – the outcome you want to reward is “dollars raised.”  Many nonprofits use a reward system based on “did you meet your goals for the year?”  By doing that, people are motivated to set an Attainable goal.  They will set a goal that they are sure they can meet so they get rewarded.

If you change your focus to rewarding the outcome, then at the end of the year you ask “how much money did you raise?” and you reward the actual performance.   This gives people freedom to set Aggressive goals.  In fact, if they understand that Aggressive goals will improve their performance, then they will be motivated to set Aggressive goals.  Again, this only holds if they are rewarded for performance and not punished for failing to meet their goals.

As the boss, you have to ask yourself what you really want.  Do you want your team to set a goal of improving your $100,000 annual fund by an Attainable 5% and having them produce the $105,000 successfully?  Or would you rather give them the freedom to set an Aggressive goal of a 15% improvement and then having them produce a result of $112,000 that does not meet the goal?  The answer is obvious, but you – as the boss – need to shift your thinking and change your reward system to allow for this.

The two SMART formulas we have looked at, Attainable and Aggressive goals, each have their role depending on the situation.  If you want results that are highly predictable, use the Attainable goal formula.  If you want high performance, then use Aggressive goals.  But what if you want innovation and breakthrough performance?  That’s the formula we’ll look at next time.

*Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P.  A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice Hall, 1990.


  1. For setting and getting goals, you may want to check out a goal setting app called GoalsOnTrack, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It's clear, focused, easy to navigate.

    Is Your Computer Sluggish or Plagued With a Virus? – If So you Need Online Tech Repairs
    As a leader in online computer repair, Online Tech Repairs Inc has the experience to deliver professional system optimization and virus removal.Headquartered in Great Neck, New York our certified technicians have been providing online computer repair and virus removal for customers around the world since 2004.
    Our three step system is easy to use; and provides you a safe, unobtrusive, and cost effective alternative to your computer service needs. By using state-of-the-art technology our computer experts can diagnose, and repair your computer system through the internet, no matter where you are.
    Our technician will guide you through the installation of Online Tech Repair Inc secure software. This software allows your dedicated computer expert to see and operate your computer just as if he was in the room with you. That means you don't have to unplug everything and bring it to our shop, or have a stranger tramping through your home.
    From our remote location the Online Tech Repairs.com expert can handle any computer issue you want addressed, like:
    • - System Optimization
    • - How it works Software Installations or Upgrades
    • - How it works Virus Removal
    • - How it works Home Network Set-ups
    Just to name a few.
    If you are unsure of what the problem may be, that is okay. We can run a complete diagnostic on your system and fix the problems we encounter. When we are done our software is removed; leaving you with a safe, secure and properly functioning system. The whole process usually takes less than an hour. You probably couldn't even get your computer to your local repair shop that fast!
    Call us now for a FREE COMPUTER DIAGONISTIC using DISCOUNT CODE (otr214423@gmail.com) on +1-914-613-3786 or chat with us on www.onlinetechrepairs.com.


  3. Problem: HP Printer not connecting to my laptop.

    I had an issue while connecting my 2 year old HP printer to my brother's laptop that I had borrowed for starting my own business. I used a quick google search to fix the problem but that did not help me.

    I then decided to get professional help to solve my problem. After having received many quotations from various companies, i decided to go ahead with Online Tech Repair (www.onlinetechrepairs.com).

    Reasons I chose them over the others:
    1) They were extremely friendly and patient with me during my initial discussions and responded promptly to my request.
    2) Their prices were extremely reasonable.
    3) They were ready and willing to walk me through the entire process step by step and were on call with me till i got it fixed.

    How did they do it
    1) They first asked me to state my problem clearly and asked me a few questions. This was done to detect any physical connectivity issues with the printer.
    2) After having answered this, they confirmed that the printer and the laptop were functioning correctly.
    3) They then, asked me if they could access my laptop remotely to troubleshoot the problem and fix it. I agreed.
    4) One of the tech support executives accessed my laptop and started troubleshooting.
    5) I sat back and watched as the tech support executive was navigating my laptop to spot the issue. The issue was fixed.
    6) I was told that it was due to an older version of the driver that had been installed.

    My Experience
    I loved the entire friendly conversation that took place with them. They understood my needs clearly and acted upon the solution immediately. Being a technical noob, i sometimes find it difficult to communicate with tech support teams. It was a very different experience with the guys at Online Tech Repairs. You can check out their website www.onlinetechrepairs.com or call them on 1-914-613-3786.
    Would definitely recommend this service to anyone who needs help fixing their computers.
    Thanks a ton guys. Great Job....!!

  4. Brilliant article. Exceptionally fascinating to peruse. I truly love to peruse such a decent article. Much obliged! continue shaking. www.ansonpc.com

  5. I utterly attitude and revalue your bushel on each and every target. best wp themes