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SMART rules & reward goals

SMART rules & reward goals

Topic 4 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Here we are at topic 4 already – the title is “SMART rules and reward goals”…

In this 3 pack episode (meaning this blog, plus the original video and the podcast), we talk about an old favorite of many – the SMART goal setting tool. Still, we incorporate a more modern flavor, leveraging off the gaming world and what has made this phenomenon so popular with the millennials and iGen groups.

And remember that we are using this approach in the context of delegation – i.e., how to get buy-in and positive, sustainable action towards the achievement of those delegated tasks or projects.

There is much debate today about whether the SMART approach to setting goals still works with our younger generations.

So during this episode, we’ll explore that concept a little deeper and identify how we can utilize the SMART structure while modernizing the method to still be useful in today’s business.

Let’s start with a review of our target…

The aim here is to delegate our Priority 3 and 2 tasks to a motivated, capable and engaged team in a way where the effort is sustainable – every leader’s dream, right?

If you have been with us since the beginning of this series, you should be starting to realize that there isn’t one single, fast cure-all in this equation.

Rather it’s a combination of carefully coupled actions (i.e., basic leadership skills) that enables the leader to excel. And a large portion of that success revolves around your team’s performance.

So in topic 2, “Motivating your future team,” we spent time exploring 7 key triggers for motivating each individual.

In topic 3, Creative Delegation Techniques, we took one step further and spoke about assessing each task’s complexity and the teams’ skills before deciding which tasks were best suited for which team member.

And do you also recall in topic 3 that we were careful to add those “activities of choice”?

We wish to take this journey one step further by establishing the requirements for each and every delegated activity.

Typically this is where we introduce our SMART acronym, and we still do, but understand that it’s just the starting point.

So let’s move onto this traditional tool and take a closer look at the pros and cons.

SMART is made up of 5 words…

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound – although in peak performance, we talk about the need to stretch and challenge the individual. Therefore, we prefer to use the word Ambitious instead of attainable. In itself, SMART forms a great guide to work through with employees as you assign their tasks..

Note, however, that we need clear determinability (meaning we must identify if the “objective is achieved or not achieved”). This is really of central importance.

There must be a criterion that allows everyone involved to clearly and unmistakably make that determination.

Remember, throughout this process, the secret lies in communicating your expectations concisely and allowing the team member to speak and express their thoughts. ” Based on the employee’s personal behavior motivators and skills, you would also include discussing the level of support and review that should take place throughout the activity.

At this moment the leader should…

Take the time to make clear that some additional rules apply as well as those just mentioned above;

  • If the achievement of the objective is endangered, the employee must provide early timely feedback to the leader.
  • The agreed objectives are documented.
  • The leader helps the employee to help themselves.

If you remember our earlier discussions, you will recall that we said all 4 of today’s working generations appreciate communications, clarity, and feedback, so no real issue so far. If this part is done correctly, it should be a positive and exciting experience for everyone involved.

However, the outcome is still somewhat predictable.

Now we want you to cast your mind back to Topic 3…

Yes, we introduced delegation, but in particular, something a little extra – the weekly meeting to discuss your project and progress.

This was an important step as recent studies have confirmed that the psychological effect of “making progress” is critical to sustained motivation. It encourages even higher levels of effort and opens the window to innovation.

When coupled with the team or peer collaboration, you have the chance of unlocking epic and creative performance improvement. A simple yet effective trigger is to ensure we are showcasing the various projects and discussing each person’s progress while obtaining support and feedback from the team.

So why do we bring this up now? Simply because you have the opportunity right here and now at this stage of setting the goals, setting the rules, and setting the periods for feedback, to tap into this powerful realization – your ability to design the work to be inherently motivating

You have the foundations laid. They are solid, based on everything we have covered to date. Now it’s time to look at your progress and development of SMART rules and reward goals.

Ask yourself if you have created that environment that enables and sustains great work. Have we bridged the gap between the old ways and the future needs? The gap which academics refer to as Constructive Discontent

Have we enabled the employee to do their work and therefore make the all-important progress? Have we designed the work to be inherently motivating?

To explore this, we will examine closely the way that game designers are thinking. How have they attracted an estimated 2.35 billion online video gamers worldwide collaborating by choice with each other?

It’s worth noting here that more than half of those are based in the Asia Pacific. In business, we know that today the rules of engagement and buy-in of our employees have changed. Therefore, we will explore what makes this gaming revolution so attractive to the millennial and iGen workforce.

How can we learn from and tap into this phenomenon to make our workplace activities equally enticing across all 4 generations?

Essentially game designers work on three elements – goal-driven, challenge intense, immediate feedback, all to provide a rich experience.  

Sounds somehow familiar, right – so are we really that far from a solution. The great realization is that we are very well positioned for this next quantum leap if we have already acted on the previous steps from topics 1, 2 & 3.

The gamer’s rewards are inherent from their success, based on their own skill and performance – the potential carrot and stick are there. Still, it’s much more intrinsic in the background, driven by a personal desire to do well and receive instant gratification and feedback based on ability and performance.

Have you picked up on that one missing element in most businesses today – it’s the removal of latency. Gamers receive instant feedback on their performance.

By contrast, many employees have no idea how their performance is seen until the annual performance review.

Did the light bulb just come on – do you now see the connection between the weekly progress and team collaboration meetings?

So let’s summarize what we have introduced in this topic 4 episode…

  • You must already action the learnings from Topics 1, 2 & 3. These form the basis for building a strong and successful team and turning your leadership from good to great.
  • We now add to that repertoire by establishing the task framework, expectations, and ground rules – using the traditional tool called SMART – ensuring that the targets are a stretch and challenge. This is an opportunity for you to sit with each of your team and discuss the project in detail, identifying support and resource requirements.
  • AND then, the extra element – we introduce as part of this planning an agreement to participate in weekly meetings to “establish that clear sense of progress.” This is done in collaboration with the team as each project is reviewed – for anyone familiar with the project management technique called Agile, you will see similarities here with sprints and regular update meetings
  • This then enables the “piece de resistance,” the icing of the cake, the “game-changer” from the past, incorporating the missing item – through that weekly meeting, employees receive that almost instant gratification and feedback as experienced and wanted through the gaming world.

And you probably expect it by now; there are secrets to how we need to offer this feedback. For gamers, it’s very black and white. Succeed and win, fail you lose!

Do we or should we take a similar harsh approach with our employees and their projects when they aren’t going so well – typically not! In fact, that goes against what we have already introduced. Instead, we offer feedback that doesn’t become stuck on the problem and reasons why not by turning our attention to what needs to be done to get the project back on track and completed.

More on this in our next topic, “Feedback strategies,” where we look forward to having you join us again for this vital and final step in establishing a high-performance team through genuine leadership.

These are basics skills but are coupled with the latest best practice learnings and studies in neuroscience. If you can put them in place, then you will truly separate yourself from the pack.

Remember to subscribe if you haven’t already and ;

Watch this video on our YouTube channel Mentors Rant

Listen to this podcast episode on Stitcher or iTunes or

Right-click here and “Save As” to download a copy of this podcast.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aH2Ppjpcho – various random experiments

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lhVUedc1a4 – connection

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YPW5QGErSs – self leadership

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2015/11/01/new-managers-6-tips-for-holding-employee-progress-review-meetings/#2bfee7e1502b – progress blog Forbes







https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQPShOARgAY – dr Jason fox – epic change

https://www.vgvids.com/join-online-gaming-revolution/ – blog article

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTACQSsKhdk – the rise of fortnite

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