In your company’s journey there is nothing more important than the creation of your own unique story that people will care about. Simply put, people need the sense that what they’re doing matters!

Over the years, businesses have set goals for their employees and teams base on SMART metrics, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. They parse roles out into achievable mini-steps to try and support the journey to project completion in the future.

In the world of Six Sigma and TQM (Total Quality Management) these work just fine. In the environment of agile development, technology disruption, and continual product enhancement they often fail to grab your employees’ attention.

People want a noble purpose in what they do and the goals they’re working towards:

  1. They want to be able to picture how great it will feel to achieve their goals.
  2. They want to learn new skills to help them achieve it.
  3. They want to feel a part of creating their own goals for the year.
  4. They want to feel that what they’re doing will enrich others (customers, the community, etc.).
  5. They want to feel that what they’re doing is aligned with the company’s top priorities.


Instead of SMART goals this year, consider replacing them with ‘HARD’ goals (Leadership IQ came up with the mnemonic and wrote a book on it): These goals are:

Heartfelt: They exist to serve something bigger than ourselves.
Animated: They’re so vivid that to not reach them would leave us wanting.
Required: These goals are as critical to us as air and water.
Difficult: They’ll test every one of our limits.

I don’t know anyone that feels pumped by the completion of small incremental movements on their project dial.

It’s the fulfilment of goals with meaning which gets teams totally engaged. Here’s an article from Leadership IQ on helping people become emotionally attached to their goals.

Drop the Powerpoint slides, forget the platitudes…and focus on the stories!