Help Your Manager Discover SMART Goals

This is the time of year when goals seem to matter most to many people. In your organization maybe you all do a better job of staying on top of them or at least establishing clear and realistic goals maybe during your annual review and then creating a regular process to go after them.

But let’s be honest, not everyone is great at setting goals and possibly your boss/manager/leader isn’t either. Yeah, I know they were promoted into a leadership role and should be good at this, but in my experience in coaching 100s of leaders and working with 1000s more, this is a skill that lacks understanding and development.

Your manager determines what course you are to take. This is based on organizational goals or tasks that he or she has been given. Many managers are not adept at setting goals for themselves, let alone for other people and they may not even understand how to cascade the goals down from their boss. This can lead employees and team members astray and is something that SMART goals can help with.

If your manager is not familiar with the concept, try to become an advocate. This is going to require you to learn what it’s all about and then do some leading up which I recommend. It’s not a bad idea to take some training on the concept. There are courses available online, and you can start by searching for the term on YouTube. Keep in mind that YouTube videos can be posted by anyone, so make sure you scrutinize the videos carefully. If someone sounds like they don’t know what they are talking about, move on to another one.

There are also paid courses that you could take. Try to get your manager to take a course with you. This can help you get him or her to accept the concept. There are several companies that specialize in training. Usually, it falls under the categories of motivation and coaching. In our Professional Leaders Series Course, we have a class on Goal Setting for yourself and your boss. You can purchase the PLS here.

If your manager is not initially on board, you may need to take the initiative and start using the concept for your own goal-setting. I prescribe to the idea of never waiting on anyone else to set goals for you if you can help it. It may be a good idea to set some goals and then go to your boss and ask for their opinion. Understanding they will probably want to shift some of them to different areas. Just remember to not get upset if they shift, you are using this as an opportunity to educate them on the importance of goal setting to help you achieve the right things.

It’s much easier to convince people when you are successful with the concept. Trying to convince someone else from a purely theoretical perspective is not as effective. Managers want results and are afraid to try something that is not proven in their minds.

You may need to negotiate to position your ideas in a positive light. For instance, you can suggest that by setting goals using a SMART framework, you can get more done. Therefore, tell your manager you are willing to take on more responsibility to prove the concept to him or her.

If your manager is not yet ready to accept this concept, at least you have planted the seeds. It’s likely he or she will look up the concept online based on your suggesting the idea. This will create an atmosphere of familiarity. When you bring it up again sometime in the future, your manager will be more receptive to the idea because it’s not a foreign concept. Ask your boss to purchase the PLS for you and then you can watch the Goal Setting lesson together. 

One last means of getting manager buy-in is to document your experience with it. For instance, you could set up a journal and show how you used the framework to get your personal goals accomplished. It’s difficult to argue with success when it is recorded for your manager to read.

There is no greater frustration than working on things you think are important only to have your boss later change directions on you and your work. By working together to establish SMART goals you both will create clarity, understanding, and trust.

Wouldn’t that be a great thing to have with one another?

Listen to The Lead Up Podcast for more ideas to improve your leadership.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.