Get "SMART": The importance of a goals-oriented change plan
If you’re like most organizations, you probably pull your change management objectives from a mental list of big-picture priorities – facilitate communication on new projects, manage change resistance, increase adoption of new technology, and so on. While that’s a great start, it’s not going to be enough.
To successfully implement organizational change, it’s important for you to set specific, measurable goals and action steps for your change plan. These objectives will help your team focus on what needs to be done and provide a clear picture of success. And if you want to find success, you’re going to have to be “SMART” about your goals.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound results. Here’s what that means:
Specific – When setting a goal, you should clearly state, so that anyone reading it can understand, what you want to accomplish and who is involved.
Measurable – This is how you will know you have accomplished the goal. By assessing your progress, you can stay on track and measure whether you have been successful in achieving your desired results.
Achievable – Your goal should stretch you to be challenged, but still be attainable per the realistic availability of time, money, and resources.
Relevant – A relevant goal makes sense and fits the purpose of the change plan as well as the culture and structure of the organization as a whole. It should also address the vision of the change plan.
Time-Bound – A target date gives your business a timeframe in which to work towards the goal. Without a timeframe, goals can easily be forgotten or put on hold. It’s important to set timeframes for not only end-results, but small goals along the way.
Why SMART goals?
Often, change management teams will set themselves up for failure by setting vague, unrealistic goals with no sense of direction. SMART goals are strategically designed to give any business project (such as travel program change management) structure and support while clearly defining what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it, and how you’re going to do it.
Specific goal-setting also helps you feel less overwhelmed by the enormity of your change plan, allowing you to face change management risks head-on and create a faster and easier process for decision-making.
Still not convinced? Here’s why your change plan will benefit from SMART goal-setting.
Clear reasons for change create change
Imagine signing up for a race just to find out there is no real finish line – it would probably seem pointless, right? That’s how your employees feel when the change plan lacks a clear, measurable direction. Your employees – from your fellow change managers to those who this change will directly affect – want to know that their efforts contribute to the success of the company and will make their day-to-day work that much easier.
Achieving goals is incredibly motivating; each one is like crossing another finish line. And with something to work toward, employees tend to be more engaged. In fact, research has found that setting goals can help employees feel a greater connection to their organization, contributing to increased optimism for the success of their company and encouraging better employee performance.
Change is a relay, not a sprint
It’s important to understand that change management is a long-term process. It’s not a sprint, but rather an endurance race that requires persistence, patience, and consistency – and it often will take time for you to see the finish line. Naturally, it can be discouraging to put in large amounts of effort without seeing any noticeable progress. This can lead to change fatigue – or worse, employee burnout – which can stop your change program in its tracks.
SMART goals make it possible to break down long-term objectives into short-term milestones that can be achieved one-by-one, creating a sense of measurable progress along the way and helping you stay focused on the tasks at hand. The key here is that you’re starting with small steps and breaking down each step into specific actions that will get you closer and closer to reaching your end goal.
Focus, focus, focus
Specific goals help your team focus on the necessary tasks at hand, which can be especially helpful when you’re making a large change to your organization. Your goals are the standard that everyone gets involved in. They will show your employees the targets they need to work toward and provide a clear sense of direction for your change, including what to focus on and how to get there. This will help them identify priorities and formulate strategies to meet their change management KPIs.
If there are any changes in direction or benchmarks along the way – which there often are – keeping track of these specific details will help prevent employees from getting sidetracked and losing sight of the most important tasks. In essence, it allows the smooth operation of change management as all the departments coordinate towards a common goal.
Success is in the numbers
It’s important to keep track of how the change plan is working and make adjustments as needed. Looking to KPIs throughout the change lifecycle will make sure you’re not blind-sided by any unforeseen areas of disconnect or misunderstanding when it comes to training or communication.
Not seeing success in your change management metrics? No worries! In some ways, the process of setting and working toward goals is even more important than whether or not you actually achieve them. Circumstances unfold over time, such as unforeseen opportunities that make previously set goals obsolete. Failure to reach a goal doesn’t necessarily mean that you have been unsuccessful in facilitating change. If your goals turn out to be unrealistic, take a step back and set new goals that will guide your plans and processes in a more relevant direction.
SMART goals lead to smarter destinations
Goals-oriented change plans are always important to the successful implementation of any kind of business change – and your travel management change efforts are no exception. Whether you’re onboarding a new TMC or adopting new travel technology, SMART goals can provide welcome direction to those who weren't involved in the development of the plan, as well as aid in implementation, monitoring, and assuring quality performance.
Not sure where to go from there? FCM can make complex change uncomplicated. At FCM, we take a flexible, scalable, and customizable approach to travel program change management that’s designed to meet your business’ unique goals. For more insights, tips and success stories visit our Change Management Hub.