Part 6 in our Series: A Smarter Approach to S.M.A.R.T. Goals
In our six-part series, A Smarter Approach to S.M.A.R.T. Goals, our first five posts have focused primarily on the front end of the goal setting process. Making sure your goals are specific enough to change behavior, meaningful so they engage the team, agreed-upon for shared success, and realistic enough to be achievable is a great start. Now you have to effectively implement. The final element of our model, “T,” stands for tracked and addresses how the implementation plan and monitoring of results are critical to success.
How often are well-stated organizational goals developed and distributed at the start of a new year – then barely addressed by individual teams until 12 months later when we check on how well we did. Our objective must be to make goal performance an integral part of our day-to-day work. And continuous monitoring and reporting is a key part of making that happen.
Following are five key ideas for effectively tracking performance in ways that improve results.
Go beyond simply posting results
To be meaningful and influence team priorities, updated reports from quality, patient satisfaction surveys and other operations metrics have to be more than just another piece of paper posted on a staff bulletin board. Make sharing and team dialogue about these results a standing item on every department meeting agenda, allowing sufficient time to really discuss the implications of the results.
Too often I hear frontline staff complain that, “they only notice when something goes wrong.” Taking time to acknowledge and celebrate success is an important way to reinforce best practices and performance. Plus, it just feels good!
Course-correct for failure
When results are not meeting expectations, it is critical for the team to understand why. Too often, teams simply say, “we must do better” without understanding the root cause of the performance shortfall. Underlying that flawed thinking is the assumption that the team is doing the right things, but they are not doing them well enough. Many times, the real problem may lie in the fact that the practices implemented to achieve the goal are not the appropriate or best ones. Only when a team understands that a change in course is necessary will results improve.
A picture is worth a thousand numbers
Straightforward graphs or charts that quickly illustrate the trend in performance are far more powerful than lots of numbers and words. Additional details behind the graphs can be used to better understand why performance is trending in a certain way or direction.
Tell stories to make the results real
Numbers are important, but it is the impact those numbers have on patients’ lives that really matter. For example, it is important for cardiac teams to track “door to balloon time” to improve performance. It is more meaningful to hear about how grateful a wife is for your efforts that saved her husband’s life. Take time during staff meetings and huddles to highlight those stories of gratitude expressed by patients, family members and colleagues.
Integrating the specific practices related to goal success into a team’s day-to-day work is essential for consistent, sustainable outcomes. Only when we both set and track goals in meaningful ways will they become an effective strategy for influencing short- and long-term results.