Give your GOAL Setting an ECRAFT boost!
by Obert Mandimutsira.
The theory of goal setting is not new in the world of business or even personal life. However it is still relevant now as it was over 50 years ago, when an American Psychologist from Maryland University Dr Edwin Locke, first advanced this theory in a paper entitled “Towards a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives”. He was later joined by a Dr Gary Latham and together they published what was then a ground breaking book called “A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance”
Their findings were that for goals to act as effective motivators, they needed to have the following characteristics:
- feedback &
In everyday language what the learned gentlemen were saying is that for goals to be effective and to take you forward in business and in life, they need what I call, ECRAFT. The ECRAFT acronym stands for:
E – Explicit
C – Challenging
R – Reasonable
A – Affirmative/Positive
F – Flexible &
T – Time bound
So, what does an ECRAFT goal look like? It should read like: I want to increase sales by R50 000 per month in six months, or to reduce travelling expenses by R20 000 per month in the next three months. Notice that I have intentionally avoided using percentages in the above examples, because it is easy to get lost in percentages particularly in small to medium businesses. Using real numbers that one can easily account for addresses the Explicit part of the ECRAFT goal.
In addition, goals that motivate need to have an element of a challenge in them. In the sales example above, to increase sales by R2000 per month is in most instances not challenging enough for a business. If you make the goal that easy to achieve, you will also find that the motivation and fire that you need from inside is not as strong.
It is one thing to set a challenging goal but it also has to be within the bounds of reasonableness. In the example above, to increase sales by R500 000 per month might come across as the ultimate challenge. However if the market is not growing at all, it becomes more of a wish than an ECRAFT goal.
I strongly believe that effective goals have to be positive, because they spell out what you should do rather than what you should not do. Our brains work best when we tell them what we want to do or achieve. A goal like “I must not overspend my travelling budget does not carry the same power and clarity as one that says, I will reduce my travelling expense budget by…..We work best from a positive and affirmative perspective than a negative one. For that reason, effective goals have to be stated in a positive framework.
The flexibility aspect of goal setting is not a back door escape route, just in case the goal proves to be hard to achieve. It is more a practical acceptance that we now live in a world where change happens quicker than ever before. Markets, technology and other innovations are forever changing our reality at a very fast pace. Therefore we need to continually review our goals to ensure their relevance and applicability against new changes in our operating environment. This also speaks to the feedback process that we must put in place as we implement our goals.
The time factor serves as a boundary within which the goal must be achieved. It introduces urgency and energy into the achievement of the goal. It is that sense of urgency and energy that helps to drive us towards our stated goal. Without a time limit element, the pursuit of a goal is likely to lose momentum. However, there are some goals like: I want to make R20m before I am 60, which are very long term. These require a slightly different treatment in terms of time limits that keep one energised in their pursuit. In cases like these, it is advisable to set up time goals along the way to the main goal. This is similar to breaking it down into manageable milestones or landmarks with shorter time frames. In the R20m example above, one can break it down into short term milestones of R2m every year. The energy and the urgency in this case comes from ensuring that the run rate towards the target of R20m is being maintained every 12 months.
So, if you really want to grow your business or your personal life, you need goals to serve as motivators and drivers for all your day to day activities. In order to pursue your goals without wavering and losing focus, you need your goal statements to have ECRAFT.