Goal Development

Why is goal setting important for your organization?

A goal addresses the questions:
      • What do we want to accomplish? 
      • Where are we going? 
      • How will we know when we get there?

Careful goal setting is part of strategic planning and should take place after a strategic analysis of the organization's external environment and internal circumstances.

This ensures that the goals and the subsequent tasks are feasible and match the organization's mission and vision. SMARTER goals communicated appropriately at all levels of an organization can motivate and are more likely to lead to success. 



SMARTER goals are objectives that meet the following criteria:

      • Specific – Goals should be written in simple language and clearly define what you want to do. They must answer who, what, why, where and when.
      • Measurable – There must be a way to determine if the goal has been completed. This might be a tangible product (ex: book or report) or a measurement of some aspect of the organization (ex: revenue, membership, sales).
      • Attainable – Given the circumstances (both internal and external to the organization), is the goal reasonable? Can it be completed in the time allowed and does the organization have the knowledge, resources and skills to do it? Challenging goals motivate, while unattainable ones tend to discourage.
      • Relevant – Does the goal support the mission of the organization? Will its outcome lead to the vision for the organization?
      • Timely – Goals must have a completion date set to motivate action. Goals and related strategies without timelines risk not being completed.
      • Extending – Goals that stretch our abilities and extend our skills are more enjoyable to work on.
      • Rewarding – The expectation of a positive result or reward on achievement of the goal can be motivating.

Goal setting is required for an organization to carry out its strategic plan. It is equally important to monitor how well the objectives of the goals are being followed. The Developing SMARTER Goals and Actions worksheet (XLS 73KB) will help in developing goals and actions that relate to the mission of the organization.

Long-term and short-term SMARTER goals

Long-term goals should be SMARTER goals that have a timeline greater than one year. These goals are directly related to the mission of the organization. For example, if the mission of the organization is to increase farm profitability in Manitoba, a long-term goal might be to attract three new markets to Manitoba commodities in the next five years.

Short-term SMARTER goals are developed with the operations of the organization in mind and should support the steps required to reach the long-term goals. These goals are measured in months and mark the milestones on the way to achieving the long-term goals.

Considering the long-term goal example above, a short-term goal may be to research potential new markets for Manitoba products and prepare a detailed report for one market every three months. 

Monitoring and management

A goal will only be reached if the actions required to meet that goal are followed. Reminding board members and staff of the organization's goals can help them monitor their own progress. Assigning specific tasks or strategies to individuals or committees will significantly increase the chance of success.

The Developing SMARTER Goals and Actions (XLS 73KB) worksheet includes a monitoring form to track the progress of each goal set.