Setting goals is one of the most important things your organization can do to achieve success. Goals provide a long-term vision and short-term motivation.
When talking about goals and objectives, often the they are combined into a single goal. This guide will focus on setting specific goals and objectives.
Goal: A statement of what your association wants to accomplish. Keep it simple, clear and concise.
Example: To physically improve the neighborhood by implementing a beautification project to enhance the common areas, the main entrance and medians throughout the neighborhood.
Objective: A very specific and measurable statement that explains how your association will reach the goal. A goal may have several objectives. Your objectives need to be SMART.
Example: Create a site plan identifying all the common areas and medians requiring landscaping by September 1, 2021.
Think of goals and objectives as a road map for your organization to follow to achieve your mission and make a difference in your neighborhood or community. Goals and objectives give your organization the ability to:
- monitor its direction
- facilitate planning
- motivate and inspire members
- track progress
- define and celebrate success
While goals create a vision your organization is striving for, objectives focus on the individual, achievable steps required to meet the goal. Objectives are the concrete deliverables that make the goal come to life.
Setting goals without assigning measurable objectives will likely lead to goals that never get accomplished. Creating objectives without a broad goal or target lacks meaning. Goals can seem impossible or overwhelming without breaking them down into measurable tasks with objectives.
Provides focus and direction. Goals make your organization’s priorities clear for everyone involved in the organization. By setting realistic and time bound objectives for when you want to finish a goal, your organization can anticipate how much work is ahead, what resources will be needed and set its schedule and resources accordingly. When you’ve got clearly set and well-defined goals and objectives, decision making is easier. Your organization will not have to use any mental energy thinking about proposed projects or activities because they don’t fit your goals.
Increases awareness about your organization’s needs. Through setting goals, the needs of your neighborhood and organization will come into focus. These needs give your organization a purpose and meaning.
Helps with decision making. It’s easy for your neighborhood organization to get off track or take on more than it can handle if there aren’t any goals or objectives established on the short-term or long-term. Your goals will make is easier to postpone a project or concern that can wait if it doesn’t fit into your current goals. When the leadership, members or neighbors bring an idea or project to the organization that doesn’t fit into the existing goals, you are encouraged to capture the idea or project for consideration the next time you are setting or updating your goals. The key is being responsive and flexible without losing your focus. Clear goals make it much easier to say no to a new idea when it doesn’t fit into your goals without offending the member or neighbor.
Motivates and inspires. Goal setting keeps your members inspired and motivated. If your association has set a target date to complete a project, then the energy level of members will increase as that target date draws nearer. Goals may help keep everyone motivated even in times where he or she isn’t putting in much work. For those times where members may not be giving their 100%, they will if they know that there is some sort of award at the end.
Keeps members active and engaged. By setting goals, there will be plenty of projects for members to work on. If members are not busy or losing interest, then it’s time to get them working to accomplish your existing goals or set new ones. An added benefit to setting goals is it helps members define “What’s In It For Me or WIIFM”, which may help maintain member interest and participation in your organization. Your goals also become a marketing and recruitment tool to share with potential or new members.
Promotes teamwork. Setting goals will encourage people to work together. When everyone is working towards a common goal, they are more likely to come together to accomplish it. If there are group rewards in place, this encourages people to work together even more since they cannot earn the reward on their own.
Creates accountability. Goals are a great way to keep you and your organization accountable for your actions. If your organization has decided it wants to do something specific, you should be taking the steps necessary to achieve it through objectives. If you’re constantly falling short of your organization goals, then you know that your leadership and members need to work harder and eliminate actions being taken that aren’t serving your organization’s mission and purpose. The opposite is also true; if you’re easily achieving your goals then you probably need to challenge yourself and the organization more. Goals shouldn’t be too easy to reach; if they are, then they’re not really goals.
Tracks progress. Are you are wondering if goal setting is worth the time? Think about this. Goals are a powerful and intentional way to track your organization’s progress and success. By regularly reviewing the status of your goals, such as how close you are to achieving your goals—or how many goals have been met—you can see in what areas of your organization is succeeding and where there needs a bit more work done. An added benefit to tracking your goals is that it will help you forecast into future for your organization
Measures success. Goals planned and written the right way will help you measure your organization’s success in ways that you never could if you hadn’t set goals. For goals to be successful, you must be able to measure progress, and your leadership and members must be able to feel that they have a chance at attaining the goal. You can then monitor progress and adjust goals as necessary. As we stated earlier, and worth repeating, goals are what keep your members inspired, motivated, and ready to work for your organization. If you set goals in the right way, there is no question that it will help increase the productivity and success of your organization.
Success will be achieved when your organization has clear direction and has defined what success looks like. Setting goals and objectives focused on the mission and purpose of your organization are the building blocks to success.
As you determine and start to write your goals, use these three factors to help formulate your goals and objectives.
- What does your organization want to accomplish? These are your goals. They’re the result of what your organization wants to do to meet its mission, such as creating an environment where neighbors know and look out for each other.
- How are you going to get there? These are your objectives, in other words, the process or steps to be taken to meet the goal and get results. An objective for the goal mentioned above may be to host a bi- monthly family friendly social at a neighbor’s house on a Friday or Saturday night from 5:30 to 7:30p.m.
- Why does your organization want it? This is the emotional reason behind your goal. This is where you will get commitment from your members. For instance, the reason you want neighbors to know and look out for each other is it creates a close knit and caring neighborhood, which makes it more of a pleasure to live in, etc.
When determining your goals and objectives, always have short-and long-term goals. Why? Because it’s important to the inspiration and motivation of your members to see and experience the accomplishments of the organization throughout your year. Meeting short-term goals will invigorate your members and make it easier to continue to work on the long-term goals.
Once you finish this guide, you will have the tools and information you need to produce the goals and objectives the SMART way to make your organization soar. The importance of goal setting in an organization is something that we cannot stress enough. Goals are what keep your members engaged, motivated and ready to work for your organization. If you set goals in the right way, there is no question that it will help increase the productivity and success of your organization. Before we get into the specifics of SMART, lets outline why your organization should set goals.
Setting goals and objectives the SMART way is easy and simple. Sometimes when we are setting goals, we get caught up in making them sound so lofty and philosophical, the SMART way will help you to keep your goals and objectives clear and concise.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable/Achievable
R - Relevant/Realistic
T - Time-bound/Time-frame
S - Specific: Make them specific, focused and well defined. Include the who, what, why and how; use action verbs.
- What exactly are we going to do, with or for whom?
- The outcome is stated in numbers, percentages, or frequency.
- Objectives should communicate what you would like to see happen or what are the desired results?
- What strategies will be used?
- Is the objective:
- Described with action verbs?
- Clear about who is involved?
- States where this will happen?
- Defines what will happen?
- Is the outcome clear?
M - Measurable: Identify how you will know it has been accomplished. Ideally you should be measuring outcomes, not activities.
- Is it measurable and can your organization measure it? How are your going to measure it and can you identify your measurement source?
- All activities, projects and events should be measurable at some level.
- To determine if your objective is measurable, ask questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
- How will I know that the change has occurred?
- Can these measurements be obtained?
A - Achievable/Attainable: Your goals and objectives should stretch and challenge your organization.
- Does your organization have the time, manpower, resources and authority to accomplish it?
- Can your organization get it done in the proposed time-frame?
- Are there any limitations and constraints? Consider if there may be factors beyond your control.
R - Realistic/Relevant: Your goals and objectives should align with your organization’s mission and purpose.
- Can your organization realistically achieve the objectives with the resources you have?
- Is your organization willing and able to put in the work to achieve the goal?
- Does your organization believe that it can be accomplished?
- Have you accomplished anything similar in the past?
- What conditions would have to exist to accomplish this objective?
- Can the organization achieve it with the resources it has?
- Do you need to revisit organizational priorities to make this happen?
T - Time Bound/Frame: This means stating clearly when the objective will be achieved.
- When will this objective be accomplished?
- Set realistic, ambitious deadlines for when it should be completed.
- Deadlines create a sense of urgency and helps prioritize resources and focus.
- Use time-lined benchmarks for all your goals and objectives.
Goal 1: By December 31, 2021 the ABC Association will host activities to encourage neighbors to get to know and look out for each other.
Objective 1.1: The social committee will plan and host four (4) family friendly socials to encourage neighbors to get to know and look out for each other by December 31, 2021.
Objective 1.2: The membership committee will visit new neighbors to invite them to the upcoming socials at least two weeks in advance of the next scheduled social.
Objective 1.3: The membership and social committee will assign committee members to host a new neighbor at the social to make them feel welcome and have the opportunity to meet as many neighbors as possible.
Let’s break down the above goal and objectives as it relates to SMART.
What: ABC Association to host 4 family friendly socials;
When: by December 31, 2021; Who: Social Committee;
Why: to encourage neighbors to get to know and look out for each other.
By December 31, 2021 the ABC Association will have hosted 4 family friendly socials.
The association’s social committee is organizing the socials and the membership committee will invite new neighbors to attend at least two weeks in advance of the next social. Does your organization have the members, resources and funds to accomplish this goal? Does the association have the time to devote to accomplishing this goal?
Engaging neighbors and helping them to get to know each other supports the mission of the association.
4 socials by December 31, 2021; personal invitations to new neighbors at least two weeks in advance of the next social.
It’s important that the organization leadership and members determine the social and physical needs of your neighborhood. Before the board gets together to set up goals and objectives, reach out to your members/ neighbors to ask what their top concerns and needs are that could be addressed by the neighborhood organization.
Asking for feedback may provide ideas board members have not thought of and makes members/neighbors feel they are being listened to and their input is valued. This approach may help in recruiting members/neighbors to work on completing some of those very goals.
You can be informal with requesting feedback, such as asking during an organizational meeting, using emails or social media to solicit ideas to a more formal approach using a needs assessment.
- Why did members buy and move to the neighborhood?
- What do you neighbors like about the neighborhood?
- What would they change about the neighborhood?
- What are the concerns of your members?
- What issues have been brought up during meetings and events?
- What are the interests of your members?
- What changes does your organization want to see in the neighborhood?
- What are your members’ expectations of the organization?
- Do members want social activities; if so, what type of social activities?
Once you have gathered the feedback, bring it to the board for review and assistance with setting goals and objectives. As a board, select the top areas you want to focus on for the short-term and long-term, prioritize your goal list and put it in writing.
Review your list and be sure the goals and objectives are SMART. Then categorize goals between those that can be completely quickly and those that will require more time.
- Periodically evaluate the status of your current goals and objectives; there may times you need to readjust a goal due to some unforeseen circumstance or new issue.
- Set annual goals towards the end of your fiscal or calendar year. Sometimes the start of a new year is very busy, and it becomes easy to put off setting annual goals.
- Create short-term goals that may be accomplished quickly and within the year.
- Setting long-term goals may be beneficial based on the needs and resources of your neighborhood and organization.
- Use a numbering system to identify your goals and objective, such as Goal 1 with its objectives being 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on; Goal 2 with objectives 2.1, 2.2., 2.3 and so on. This makes it easy for members to be clear about what goal and objective is being discussed, etc.
- Publicize and post your goals where your members and potential members can read them. Your members should know what your goals are. Be sure to tell everyone when your goals have been accomplished and what the results or outcomes are.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of success is:
1a: degree or measure of succeeding
1b: favorable or desired outcome also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
2: one that succeeds
What does success look like and feel like for your organization? How do you measure the success of your organization? Too often, organizations are not intentional in defining or celebrating their success. Many organizations get too busy to think about success. Defining success can get loss or become a low priority when your organization is so focused on resolving issues or providing services.
Success may have many definitions and be different for your organization’s leadership, members and neighbors. We often define success based on our personal perspective, wants and desires.
Bottom line, for the well-being of your organization and its members, your organization must be able to define its success, to know what success is and to be able to share and celebrate its successes. People like to be associated with success and with successful organizations.
Success requires planning, thinking, and action. The key to recognizing success is setting clear goals and then implementing a plan to achieve them. Setting goals and objectives guides the direction and focus of your organization. Goals also help align your resources and work with your mission.
Determining what and where your organization wants to go. Setting up a clearly defined and focused direction which will lead to success. It helps define what your organization and its members want. Without goals your work may become disorganized, fragmented and confusing.
- Measuring progress and keeping on track to achieve the goal. Knowing the status and progress of goals may be rewarding and motivating to your members and neighbors. If you are not sure where you are with a goal or how close you are to achieving the goal it an become discouraging because you don’t see the finish line. When you measure progress while working towards a goal, you will be able to see you are moving in the right direction and are a lot better off than where you started.
- Staying motivated and focused on the end game. It’s easy to procrastinate and do it tomorrow when there is no goal on the line. Goals give your organization and members a destination or finish line.
- Increasing responsiveness and thinking ahead. Goal setting will help your organization be relevant to your members and neighbors. It makes the organization focus on its mission, purpose and the value it adds to the neighborhood and community. Making long-term goals and setting short-term goals will help your organization to get to where it wants to be.
- Being organized and intentional. Working towards goals and objectives will make your organization come across as well managed and confident, which leads to success. Remember, people like to be a part of success.
Bottom line, goals are one of the most effective ways to ensure success by measuring your efforts and documenting when you accomplish your goals and objectives.
Remember to be intentional about celebrating your achievements and sharing the outcomes of the goals and objectives your organization has achieved. Your organization will be stronger and more confident when it can document its successes
By applying the SMART approach to goal setting and the other information in this guide, you will be significantly increasing the effectiveness and success of your organization.
If you are needing a little motivation to get started with your goal setting, call or email your Neighborhood Relations team at 407.246.2169 or email@example.com. We are here to help you build and maintain a strong neighborhood organization. You can do it.