Goal Setting For Project Managers - Harper Hallett Consulting

Goal Setting For Project Managers

How many project managers follow a structured goal setting approach for their project? In other words, how many project managers turn their deliverables and deadlines, into achievable goals?

In my experience over the last 25 years, it’s very few and, if they did set goals, they would stand much more chance of delivering their project on time and within budget.

In this article, I’ll explain why?

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Why Goal Setting Will Help You Deliver Your Project on Time.

 There are three reasons why structured goal setting will help you deliver your project on time:

Reason #1: The Law of Focused Attention

This law states that the more you focus on one thing, the more energy you create to achieve that one thing, and therefore, the more chance there is that you will succeed in your achievement.

When you focus on the deliverables and deadlines of your project, rather than the task activities, your success and achievement reaches a much higher level, because of that laser focus.

Reason #2: A System For Success

Ask any sportsperson, how they repeat success, be it in golf, tennis or football, and they will tell you that they all follow a system. The same number of ball bounces at the same height, the same swing on a golf club when putting, the same amount of paces before taking a penalty

Reason #3: Specificity

One of the reasons that following a structured goal setting approach will yield better results than objectives is because of the process that sits behind the system. That process results in a higher specificity of the outcome that is being pursued and therefore, with more specificity of the outcome, the more precisely it is defined, the easier it is to achieve.

A Word of Warning: Beware of the Knee-Jerk Reaction

Even before I explain why you should use structured goal setting, you may be tempted to rush off and set a SMART objective, because they’re the same, aren’t they, or are they?

Is the terminology of objectives, targets, aims and goals interchangeable and do they all mean the same?

Well no it isn’t, and there is a massive difference between objectives, targets, aims, and goals.

Firstly though, let’s look at why you shouldn’t rush off and set a SMART Project Objective.

Why SMART Objectives Don’t Work Consistently?

If you have worked in business for some time, then I imagine that you have at least heard of SMART Objectives, and you that you were also trained in how to write them. You know, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.

In my experience, SMART Objectives rarely work,,because after all, if they did, you’d be achieving all of your goals right now, wouldn’t you?

The Real Issue

Now the real issue isn’t whether you can make an objective achievable because all of us, at some point, have achieved objectives. The real question is how to do it consistently because, consistency means having a process whereby the achievement of the goal is a foregone conclusion, enabling you to achieve your goals 100% of the time.

Three Reasons Why the SMART Process is flawed.

The way you were trained to use the SMART acronym is flawed and here are three reasons why?

Reason #1: You have only been told half of the story.

When you were taught how to use SMART, you were only told part of the picture. I bet you were told to make your objective Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. They are all great qualities, yet there is some much more to consider, making this goal 100% achievable.

Reason #2: Away from and Towards.

There is a myth that objectives, targets, aims and goals as all equal, well they aren’t. The big difference between objectives, targets, aims, and goals is that the first three, (objectives, targets, aims) are always written in the future. For example:

“By [date] I will have achieved [objective].

This way of setting objectives is always out in the future, hanging there in the ether, just like a carrot dangling and never arriving.

A goal, however, by definition, has happened, it’s in the past. Think of this in sporting terms; it’s binary; you have scored a goal, or you haven’t, and football especially is measured in the number of goals you have scored.

Reason #3: No Process

Behind every good business venture are processes and tools. When SMART is trained there is no process, no systems to support it.


What to do Instead

I know it’s stating the obvious, however, as a Project Manager, you should take every step you can you can to ensure that you deliver the outcome of the projects on time and within the budget. Here are three quick and simple actions to take.

  1. Convert Each Deliverable into SMART Goal.
  2. Write your goal in the positive language.
  3. Develop a compelling reason to achieve that goal.

How To Get Started

I know how daunting it can be going it alone to figure this out to take those new actions and for me that help came in the form of an experienced coach who helped me get started quickly, and that’s how I can help you.

To discover how you can get started quickly with structured goal setting, and ensure that your projects deliver on time and within the budget book a FREE “Project Success Call” with me and we’ll explore the opportunities together.


Thanks for Reading

Chris Hallett

“The Project Success Coach”

p.s. I almost forgot…

I’ve got a gift for you.

One of the best ways to get started with with structured goal setting is to use a template. You can get a Free copy of the Project Goal Template from:


This template uses the Power Goal Formula, based on a tried and tested system for achieving goals.

Chris Hallett

Chris is a Project Management Consultant and after over 25 years of running Project, Programmes & PMO has now turned his attention to helping other Project Professionals build high performing project teams. As an author, speaker and coach Chris has worked with many people one a 1-1 basis as well as in corporate life. To book a 1-1 Success call with Chris, go to: https://harperhallettconsulting.co.uk/contact/

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