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Book: SMART Objective Setting for Managers - A Roadmap by Irial O'Farrell

Book: SMART Objective Setting for Managers - A Roadmap by Irial O'Farrell

categories: Book, Business, Management, Leadership, Performance Management, Competency Development, Objective Setting, Goal Setting, Smart Objectives, Management Skills


Irial O'Farrell

Author Irial O'Farrellabout this book: I've designed and implemented a performance management and development process many times, across several different industries, and there are 3 things that always amaze me:

1. Managers have no clear vision of what they expect of their team
2. Managers have no idea how to go about developing individual team members
3. HR personnel think that managers just "know" this stuff

As for SMART, they can get their heads around tangible output-type objectives but when it comes to the soft, intangible stuff, forget about it. Just before Covid hit, I was working with a senior management team and implementing OKRs and they really struggled with connecting the concept to the business. Covid literally hit my part of the world the last day of working with them, so that might just explain why I picked objective setting as the topic of this book. It might just have been on my mind!

So, this book was written for those managers and leaders that really want to do a good job and properly manage and develop their team and who also like (or at least are open to) reading business and management books. While their intention is to do right by their teams, what they'll ironically discover is that they will also personally benefit. They will actually find that they have more time, to focus on more strategic issues or developing themselves for the next stage of their career. They'll also be delighted by how more engaged and motivated their team members are, along with being more capable and effective in doing their job.

The book unpacks the struggles managers typically have with objective setting:

1. Defining the desired outcomes of performance
2. Diagnosing team members' individual starting points
3. Defining tangible objectives for "soft" behavioural performance issues
4. Understanding what can go wrong in the communication process, when agreeing objectives

You'll also gain increased clarity on how performance development fits in with both the person's role and the organisation's objectives, the 4 different types of objectives and how to prepare effectively for an objective setting meeting. As I'm all about the practical, I've also thrown in a chapter on how to structure and conduct the objective setting meeting.

This book is very much about developing individuals' capability while putting the human very much at the centre of the process. It doesn't have to be either/or. It can be "and".

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