The HARD goal theory easy to implement
Do you feel a success? You see success is often a personal illusion. You may think that Tiger Woods is an amazing success in the world of golf, and yet I am sure if you took a deep conversation with him, he would spend time to highlight the many errors and missed chances he has made. The HARD system provides solutions.
The same applies to business leaders and everyone we know. Only a few feel they have true success, some will tell you they are successful but they do not feel it fully, it is always a relative and comparative measure.
Some will argue that success is not an emotional state but an awarded position. In many areas of life this can be very true, yet on a personal basis and from a long term strategic perspective, success is slippery. So, how do we generate this emotional state of success?
One case put forward by Mark Murphy is that we should embrace goal setting to achieve success through the use of the HARD system.
HARD Acronym explained
Mark Murphy puts forward a strong and solid case against the use of SMART goals (See our article on SMARTER). There are many limitations that SMART goals create through their design of specifics. The HARD goal setting system is more ambitious and flexible than SMART goals. So, for people or companies with no valid clear benchmark data HARD goals become an interesting prospect.
Starting with an emotional connection, the call for your goal to be heartfelt is clever and a great start.
The need to create continued motivation through the journey of a goal is important.
You may be called to give things up, either habits, physical goods, surroundings or friendships whilst in the pursuit of your goal.
This is why you need a strong passion and intimate heartfelt relationship with your goal. There will be tough and hard times (pun intended) so establishing a strong connection from the very start is a great start.
Mark Murphy comes from the land that created Disney and is known for its celebration in glitz and glamor. Therefore the initial reaction to having animated goals is understandable from a cultural perspective. They do however make clear sense. The need to establish a very detailed vision that explores not just the goal, but what does the goal sound like, look like, feel like. The list is endless; inclusion of the correct light settings, colors and settings brings new insights to the realities of the future state you pursue. This process often highlights the technology, resources and impacts you need to make for the goal success.
Big goals demand so much time and effort that consequences are sure to arise. The reminder that the goal is a must have requirement develops a sense of priority and urgency for the participants. A great part of Mark Murphy’s work on this specific point is his encouragement to address future costs. By projecting the future costs of doing or not completing this helps clarify the why a goal is required and can become the catalyst to reinforce an emotional connection to the goal.
Difficult is a relative term and can affect your goal construction and expectation. The art is to define how large the gap is between the edge of your comfort zone and what is impossible. This is the region of stretched goals that can be a generator of motivation or continued anxiety for the participants. Creating stages within the levels of difficulty linked to gamification is a powerful combination to success and helps alleviate anxiety over long time periods. The key element is to recognize and measure the progress being made.
Creating emotional connections
Goal setting for individuals can be a challenge, yet successful goal setting with teams requires another layer of understanding performance variation and potential through synergy. A significant factor for team success is creating a positive spirit through motivators. These motivators remain critical to retain an emotional connection between the participants and the actual goal.
A range of motivators exist to stimulate action. A great leader understands how to use each of the influencers to retain an established emotional connection to the goal being worked on. See this list of considerations for a manager to include:
Incentive: - What is the incentive for the participants to engage with the goal right now, today, this week, this year?
Fear: - How will the participants deal and be supported when facing the fear of failure during action on the goal?
Achievement: - What are the clear acceptance criteria to understand the clear steps of achievements during goal progression?
Growth: - What is the expected growth desire and expectation of the organization and each participant?
Power: - How does the experience establish credibility and power to the individuals, team and business?
Social: - Where are the open communication lines for each person to engage?
Recognition: - How has personal, peer and public recognition been designed into the goal progress?
Coaching: - When and how will coaching be provided? Are external or in-house or self-learning experiences managed?
Leadership Opportunities: - What empowerment allowances are being provided to allow individual and team accountability through leadership behaviors. What future leadership opportunities are likely outcomes from the goal?
Breaks the Norm: - How is the link between normal activity and actions taken within pursuit of a goal being culturally managed?
Importance: - How to highlight the importance of success to the person, team, departments and business?
Optimism: - What is the positive lesson and management story line being provided to sponsor the goal through optimistic feedback, training and management?
Key Separating Factors of HARD goals
Similar to the principles I shared before in 10x goals , the HARD goal setting system stretches the boundary of “achievable and realistic” found in normal SMART goals. The intent to brush these to the side and extend them is simple. Mark Murphy seeks to create a “full potential” from each goal. Therefore he prefers to be more ambitious in the design of goal setting. This approach has a great case and relevance in areas of personal development yet needs to be managed within the business world.
Today’s companies often provide pay reviews based on goal setting and goal delivery performance.
Therefore shareholder may prefer stringent SMARTER goal setting so their returns are more stable and predictable. In creative industries and less developed markets the case for HARD goals becomes stronger.
It allows more scope by design of upside performance whilst still retaining a solid robust foundation to manage results effectively.
The case for HARD goals has an interesting place in a world with SMARTER goals. Today we mix ever improved data to form a hypothesis and better SMARTER goals. In areas where less data is accessible or simply you wish to extend beyond the normal constraints of strict goal setting parameters, then HARD goals has a bright future.
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Further Reading and Reference
- Vision boards
- How to break bad habits
- Benchmarking: Why you should not always compare to them
- Written by James Doyle, founder of JAMSO, success consultant and trainer. We have over 100 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter, subscribe now.