A CLEAR Approach to Agile Goal Setting

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A business without goals is like a ship without direction  ̶  you will end up somewhere, but you won't know where (and your "crew" likely won't be too pleased with the landing spot).

Setting goals will always be at the core of professional and personal success. Goals should be established and agreed upon before the start of a project. They should also be agile and flexible enough so that they can be modified to remain meaningful and relevant to all team members over the lifecycle of any given project.

Many companies employ the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based) framework. This is a tried and true approach to goal setting  ̶  but it’s also a little tired. While the SMART framework provides a nice introduction to goal setting, it isn't nearly flexible or inclusive enough to really guide businesses to the destinations they ultimately wish to reach.

It’s time for a new approach. Enter CLEAR goals: an agile, innovative, and all-encompassing approach that builds off of the solid groundwork laid by the SMART framework.

  • Collaborative ̶  team members are involved in the goal setting process
  • Limited ̶  there is an established scope and duration to the project
  • Emotional ̶  taps into team members' passions
  • Appreciable ̶  breaks down larger goals into smaller ones
  • Refinable ̶  plans can be modified and adjusted as needed

Now that you have a framework from which to work, the next step is to decide how you will measure the success and progress of each goal. In the dynamic world of work, the right tools to set, track, and measure goal progress are critical. Innovative performance management solutions support consistent and visible goal attainment through continuous micro-conversations and check-ins to ensure proper transparency and agility. These conversations and check-ins provide both managers and employees with a sense of how a project is proceeding, allowing them to stay on course, change direction, or slightly adjust goals if need be.

The individual goals of team members are just as important as the goals of the company or of a specific project. Today, employees expect to see the link between their daily work and their overall goal achievement. Tools that support direct line-of-sight for employees to easily view and measure their personal goals are important in keeping team members focused on what matters to their own personal growth and to the growth of the overall company.

Goals give a project structure and direction. That doesn't mean they have to be strict and set in stone. Learn more about agile goals and the do's and don'ts of performance management in this infographic.