The Magic Ingredient for Successful Goal Setting | by Jennifer Britton PCC

Client at desk working remotely setting goals

Everybody has their own Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb. Seth Godin

Setting goals and accountability are an important part of the coaching process, whether you're working with people on monthly, 90-day or annual goals. This article will help you coach leaders and teams when setting goals—especially remote workers. It also provides some interesting areas for all coaches to consider for motivational goal-setting.

The missing "E" in SMART goals

Goals easily become unmotivating when we create too many, or if we create goals that are not achievable. But they're also unmotivating if they're not tapped into our key motivators—the things that excite us!

That's why, in my writing, I like to talk about goals that are not only SMART, but SMART-E:

  • Specific – What specifically do you want to achieve? What will it look like?
  • Measurable – How can you track progress?
  • Achievable – With some stretch, are these achievable?
  • Realistic – Again, with stretch, are these in range?
  • Timebound – What's the time frame on this—next week, end of June, early 2021?
  • Exciting – And most of all, are these goals exciting? If not, they might not get done or they may get done only to check them off.

So, the magic ingredient for successful goal setting is excitement!

How do we ensure a goal is exciting? Well, let's take a look at the CLAIMS model that explores 5 key elements of motivation. Please note that these elements are especially important for remote working.

The CLAIMS model of Motivation

This framework invites clients to consider five key elements that motivate us: Community, Autonomy, Impact, Money and Status.

1) Community

Some motivational models call this belonging or affiliation. Many professionals want to be part of a bigger whole. This is particularly important when we work remotely.

Key questions:

    • How will you build the relationships you need—both for social contact and for getting things done?
    • How will you communicate effectively?
    • How will you develop—or contribute to—a strong team culture?

2) Learning

Ongoing learning is critical for success in the remote workspace, particularly as teams today are fluid and ever changing.

Key questions:

    • What are the opportunities for learning with this goal?
    • What are the different ways you want to learn?
    • How do you want to contribute?


Autonomy means having the independence to do our work in a way, time and structure set by us. And remote work is not short on autonomy.

When remote working, we rely on high trust and giving people the choice and flexibility to get things done. It also relies on clear communication, systems, practices, goals, roles and other elements that are key for high performance. In particular, when clarity exists, remote workers can focus in on what's important.

Key questions:

    • Do you have a level of autonomy that feels comfortable to you?
    • Do you have the clarity you need to succeed?


As remote workers, our impact is often measured through our output (the results we get). Don't forget that it can also be measured through the influence we have over others and how we build a sense of community and team.

Key questions:

    • In what ways do you already have impact?
    • What's the impact you specifically want to make?
    • How will you measure it?


For some people, money and other benefits may be a significant driver.

Key questions:

    • How supported do you feel in the area of finances and benefits?
    • What has happened to the compensation piece and perks since moving to remote work?


Think about how status is a motivator for you. Then answer these questions.

Key questions:

    • What is your role? What is your position?
    • How is status important for you?
    • Are you acknowledged for what you bring to the team?
    • Are you seen as the go-to person around problem solving?


Whether it's creating a goal or vision board that sits in the office or creating a one page plan, simply keeping goals visible can be an important part of the motivation to succeed.

But goal setting can also benefit from a deeper exploration of the motivational levers of our clients. It's essential that goals are exciting!

So what conversations are important to have?

Well, the next time you work with clients on goal setting, consider asking:

  • What are your top 3 to 5  SMART-E goals for this quarter?
  • What makes them exciting?
  • What makes them motivational from the CLAIMS perspective?

For more on the topic of goals, check out the Remote Pathways Podcast Episode 3.

Jennifer Britton

Contributing Author:

Jennifer Britton, MES, CHRP, CPT, PCC, is the author of seven books and has influenced a generation of coaches in the realms of team and group coaching. You may have read her writing, including Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010), the first book in the world to be published on the topic of group coaching; From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching; or her latest, Reconnecting Workspaces: Pathways to Thrive in the Virtual, Remote and Hybrid World (2021).

Since 2006, Jennifer's Group Coaching Essentials and Advanced Group and Team Coaching Practicum programs have become known as the must-do training in the area of group coaching. Focused on providing coaches with best practices in designing, marketing and implementing group coaching, these programs have helped thousands of coaches launch their own group and team coaching programs in a wide variety of settings (public, corporate, non-profit). Together both courses are approved for 18.75 ICF CCEUs. These are the first two of 10 course pathways leading to certificates in Group and Team Coaching.

Potentials Realized's ICF-CCE programs are geared for aspiring group and team coaches, especially those wanting to work toward the New Advanced Credential in Team Coaching (ACTC) with the ICF.

Also check out our neuroscience course for group and team coaches (NLE-A), Team Coaching Essentials  and ACTIVATE Your Team and Group Coaching Superpowers. Prefer podcasts? Listen in to the Remote Pathways podcast, which explores the many different pathways to remote work, business and leadership.

Learn more about Jennifer & see all their articles here >>

Image of Client at desk working remotely setting goals by Syda Productions via Shutterstock


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