Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.
Setting goals is an important part of organizational management. In this lesson, we'll look at a method that departments can use to develop goals that fit into the overall vision of their organization. A short quiz follows the lesson.
Department Goals in Context
Meet David. He's the department head of his company's shipping department. His company produces sporting equipment, and his job is to make sure that customer orders are shipped out in a timely manner.
David's company recently revamped its mission statement and vision with a great focus on improving customer service. Dave's boss, the vice president of his department's division, has tasked David with developing new goals for his department that are in line with the company's vision and mission.
A goal is an end result you want to achieve. It's where you want your organization to go. You get to goals through a series of objectives, which are fixed, concrete and measurable steps taken that will help you achieve your goal. David's task is to set goals for his department that will help achieve the company's goal of providing excellent customer service. You can think of department goals as objectives that help a company achieve its overall goal.
David should set SMART goals that meet the following criteria:
This is a well-known method of setting goals and can easily be remembered using the term SMART, which is formed by using the first letter of each criterion. Let's take a look at each criterion in a bit more detail.
David must set goals that are specific, clear and focused. Vague and ambiguous goals are very difficult to accomplish because they are hard to define. If you can't define or articulate your goal, then you will not be able to take steps to achieve it because you don't have a firm understanding of what you want to achieve. In other words, if you don't know where you are going, you have no way of getting there.
Let's say that David wants to improve shipping as a goal. Improving shipping really isn't specific enough. Improving shipping can mean improving costs, creating better packaging and handling or ensuring quicker processing times and quicker shipping to customers. A better goal to set is for David's department to have 75% of all orders processed and shipped on the same day they are placed. This goal is specific and definable.
A smart goal is also a measurable goal. If goals are not measurable, they cannot be assessed. If a goal can't be assessed, then you'll never know if you are on the path to successfully achieving the goal or on the path to failure. David's goal of having 75% of all orders processed and shipped on the same day they are placed is measurable. Currently, only 57% of all orders ship on the same day. David can simply calculate the percentage of orders placed each day that have been processed and shipped.
Goals must not only be specific and measurable, but they must also be attainable. In other words, they must be realistic. In our example, David needs to make sure that it's actually possible for 75% of orders to be processed and shipped on the same day they are placed.
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After thinking about it, David realizes that his goal is probably not attainable. Customer orders can be placed 24 hours a day, but the shipping department only operates 16 hours a day and does not work on Sunday. Moreover, the carriers the company uses have a last pick-up at 7:00 p.m. and do not pick up on Sunday. In fact, about 30% of the company's orders are made 'after-hours' on the Internet. David needs to adjust his goal so it's attainable. He modifies the goal to having 75% of all orders processed and shipped within 24 business hours of an order being placed.
Goals must be relevant to the company's vision. A specific, measurable and attainable goal doesn't accomplish much if it's not relevant to the company's vision or mission. In fact, it may be counterproductive. Let's look at David's goal.
The company wants to focus and improve upon customer service. Does David's goal help the company achieve the company's overall vision? In other words, is it relevant? Shipping and processing is part of serving customers. Increasing efficiency will get customers their products faster and should increase customer satisfaction. David's goal is relevant.
Even though David's goal is now specific, measurable, attainable and relevant, it's still flawed. A goal without a deadline may never be accomplished. Other matters will get in the way because they will have deadlines. Thus, a SMART goal is a time-bound goal. It will have a definite timeline, which includes a starting point and an ending point within a fixed time period. In order to make his goal smart, David modifies it to commence immediately and be accomplished within 90 days.
David must remember that setting the goal is just the start, not the end of the process for achieving a goal. He will also need to set objectives to accomplish his department's goals. This may include hiring more employees, obtaining new technologies, utilizing new carriers and streamlining current practices.
Let's review what we've learned. A goal is simply an end result that you want to achieve. Objectives are concrete steps that you must complete in order to achieve your goal. One technique for setting goals is developing SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals.
After you've completed this lesson, you should have the ability to:
Define goals and objectives
Explain the concept of SMART goals and the importance of setting these goals
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