More Than Just SMART Goals

About a year ago, I embarked on a journey with my team to coalesce around some common goals. I didn’t do this because there were major issues or dissatisfaction, but because there were several new team members. We utilized a third party to help facilitate a discussion and create SMART Goals.

One activity the team conducted was an opportunity for anyone to ask me any question. Some of the questions were very interesting. I learned about major concerns of some team members and ways that I could better lead the team. It was a humbling experience to have a no-holds-barred Q&A with staff. I learned a lot about the team, and they learned a lot about me.

By the end of the day, we developed three SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) Goals for the team and the city: Motivation, Empowerment, and Communication. These goals were not goals I developed; rather goals constructed as a team with buy-in from each team member with specific and measurable ways that we could achieve.

The key to achieve goals is follow up. At our weekly team meetings, the first thing we would discuss was one of the goals. A different goal was discussed each week, and we made certain each goal was meeting the timeline and objectives set. We held each other accountable and have seen positive results. The employees have been stretched by managers assigning tasks that may have been out of someone’s comfort zone. However, the manager spends time coaching and encouraging them to achieve. The results have been employees feeling motivated and empowered to go above and beyond with the next assigned project or task.

Another outcome has been better communication flow. While lack of communication can still occur on some issues, we are better equipped to work through those issues. We have become committed to communicate information about big projects, major decisions, and council concerns to all employees. This has proven helpful when a citizen stops by city hall to ask a question or stops an employee on the street. Employees are better equipped with information on a topic and how to point citizens in the right direction to acquire the information they are seeking.

SMART Goals are more than just goals. They provide a road map for where you want an organization to go while keeping the team accountable for the success of goals. In addition, they provide a measurable way to track progress and learn where you have been. Our organization has proven to be better as a result, and I look forward to setting the next SMART Goals with my team.

(Article submitted by Austin Bleess, City Manager, City of Jersey Village. If you have interesting news or helpful topics to share, please submit them to Kim Pendergraft at kim@tml.org. Please keep the information to fewer than 750 words.)