Putting Empowerment Theory into Practice using SMART Goal Setting
As a social worker and a business owner, empowerment is an important value in my work with organizations and clients.
Social Work Empowerment Theory involves creating conditions for increased motivation for action through shared power, resources, and responsibility. In a clinical context, empowerment theory centers on helping people gain power to improve their lives. In an organizational context, empowerment theory is applied to help leaders and teams achieve organizational goals. As a public impact consulting firm, individual empowerment is crucial to achieving organizational impact.
An empowering context creates a sense of personal effectiveness that can feel motivating and inspiring. This is especially important when people working within an organization and its leaders feel powerless due to organizational challenges. While empowerment theory is a known concept within social work, it is beneficial across any and all industries.
When organizational leaders can effectively create and sustain an empowering context, it can increase their effectiveness as managers, improve an organization’s productivity, and strengthen team development. There are a number of strategies associated with creating an empowering organizational environment.
One strategy and technique to increase empowerment is through SMART goal-setting. SMART is an acronym for 5 elements of a goal: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
Goal setting can be a challenging task. My clients have shared that creating SMART goals can feel time-consuming and complicated. Some people assume setting SMART goals requires a particular skill set in data and measurement. Some people believe you have to know how you’ll achieve the desired goals before you declare what they are. But you don’t have to.
I learned how to create SMART goals as a social worker, and I have been using this method for over the past 20 years. Use these five elements to create actionable goals with an empowering context.
FIVE ELEMENTS OF SMART GOALS
Identify a minimum of two and a maximum of five goals that you seek to accomplish. For example, as the CEO of Anavi Strategies, an important goal for me is to promote my business services using social media.
Use action verbs to craft your goals, such as “launch” “develop” “build” “plan” or “implement”.
Who will be involved? Did you get their input?
Are actions assigned to specific people or to teams?
Will this outcome lead to my (or our) desired results?
Think ahead about how you might know if you’ve achieved your goal.
How will you know that change has occurred?
What are the metrics?
How will you collect metrics?
For example, in order for Anavi Strategies to increase its business using social media, I may want to measure how often I post on each channel, and the level of engagement.
“I will create a monthly content calendar and post three times a week on each social media platform.” This is a measurable goal. I can look week-by-week and see if I am meeting my goal, and if some social media platforms are performing better than others.
My personal preference is to set goals that I can achieve in the short-term. I think about what I might need in order to achieve the goal, and identify what might help make it more attainable. For my social media goal, I will use a content template, and draft or schedule posts for each week in advance using Hootsuite. Committing to doing something each week is a challenge, but it is not impossible. This element felt ambitious, but not unrealistic.
Can this be done in the proposed time frame?
Are there limitations and constraints, and do I fully understand what they are? Who can help me better understand the risks?
Can I (or we) achieve this outcome with the resources available?
Make sure the goal you are creating is relevant to your longer-term aspirations, and the vision you have for your life or your business. For me, having a consistent social media presence will help me grow and establish myself as an expert. Your goal should inspire you, period.
Do I (or we) have the resources available to achieve this outcome?
Is it possible to achieve this outcome?
Is there a baseline measure, and if so, what is it?
Pick a timeframe for your goal. My preference is to create goals that I can achieve within 12 weeks. I will start now and test some strategies to have a reliable system in place within 3 months. You get to choose!
Over what timeframe does this outcome need to be achieved?
I believe in creating SMART goals because it helps me get clarity about what I want to achieve, and it gives me a roadmap for how to achieve it. I am an advocate for setting myself up for success, and SMART goals allow me to do that. I’ve led teams in collective goal setting and I have seen first hand how this activity can generate feelings of empowerment for organization and business leaders, for individuals, and for teams.
Use this simple tool to create actionable goals that will help you achieve results. This process can help take your goal from a general idea to a specific and practical plan of action.
I use this method to set short and long term goals that are personal and for my business. I review my goals each week, and set new goals every three months. The key to success is simplicity!
Whether you call them goals, objectives or priorities, define each by a key actionable result you want to see. Choose something that is ambitious, and generates excitement and joy.
Follow this model for individual goal setting, or collaborative goal-setting with teams. Create realistic timeframes for when key results should be met, and include thoughtful explanations for why each goal is important to you, and to the organization at large.
With these five elements in mind, the idea is to set goals that are clear and defined, and create an empowering context to achieve your goals with available resources.
Anavi Strategies is a public impact consulting company offering strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation services.
We work with the public sector, nonprofits and philanthropy, and business clients to achieve the desired public impact.
Interested in business services? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org