Get Your Goals On Track!

Get Your Goals On Track!

How often do you feel like your board is being pulled and pushed in too many directions at once? If your answer is, “too often,” if you wish you could help your board be more strategic and less reactive, it’s time to look to your goals.

Whether you’re focused on the operational elements of getting your charter running smoothly in its first year, or the aspirational ideas that will truly change lives well beyond this year, the first step is defining your goals.

Goals keep your board on track…but only if they’re visible to everyone on your team; and you know what needs to get done, when and by whom so that the work actually gets done.

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 What do you need your goals to do for your board?

A quick pulse check: How much time does your board spend reacting to the now vs. building for the future?

Before you answer with your gut reaction, let’s look at the data.

Take a look at your agenda and minutes. {Hopefully, those are easy to find and review.} For each item, consider whether the board was being reactive or proactive. Were you addressing something that just popped up and needed to be handled immediately, or considering a big item for the organization’s future, like a new building?

Now, add up the time spent on each side of the coin. Does the data show what you expected? Are you really spending your time and energy working towards those big goals or immediate operational details?

In the beginning, most boards spend most of their time being more reactive than proactive. It might feel like all you do is put out fires. You can change this over time.

Our goal-setting strategies will help your board to flip the script, so you’re spending as much as 90% of your time {and energy} on planning for the future rather than being bogged down in the details of the day. We’ve seen it happen for BoardOnTrack members, and we know it can happen for you.

A quick note before we continue

To be ready to set goals and reach results, you’ve got to be structured effectively. If you have yet to establish your committees and their responsibilities, get those in place and then come back to goals.

You can start with this guide.

As you prepare to launch your goals, take stock of where you are in this reactive/proactive spectrum, and let that inform how you approach your goals for this year and beyond.

8 steps to set the right goals for your charter organization.

1.Agree on what the key organizational priorities are going to be for the year.

Be a visionary. Your goals can be as big and ambitious as you want them to be, as long as they’re realistically achievable, address your charter promises, and are aligned with the organization’s overall values and mission.

Ask yourself: What are the most important things that need to get done this year? What’s the most important thing that the organization as a whole needs to accomplish?

You’ll come up with some really exciting ideas. Always ask yourself: Does this align with our mission? Is this addressing our charter promises? If the answer’s no to either question, this goal’s not right for you right now.

2.Understand the difference between board-level and CEO-level goals.

Your organization will have two types of goals: governance goals and management goals. Governance goals articulate how the board will add value to the organization. Management goals define what will be achieved by the CEO and his or her team.

Management goals are extremely important. They’re most closely related to what’s in your charter contract and authorizer accountability plan. And they form the basis of the CEO’s annual evaluation. Yet, there’s a difference between overseeing the achievement of the management goals and ensuring that you as the board deliver on your own goals.

With that, in order to maximize board efficiency, focus your energies on the governance goals, which guide what the board will actually do.{If this is new to you, check out this refresher on the difference between governance and management.}

3. Define your board’s goals, for this year or beyond.

Considering what the organization is expected to accomplish this year, what does the board need to accomplish? Think about this in terms of each committee — what will the financial management goals include; what about academic excellence, etc.? {Remember, your board has to be structured for success before you start down the path to set the goals for the year. And that includes having the right committees in place.}

4. Finalize your goals with a full board vote. 

Once the committees have dug into the details and gotten as granular as they need to about what will be done and how it’s time for the full board to vote on the final goals for the year. But, do make sure your CEO — and any senior-level staff — can participate in the committee-level goal-setting processes.

5. To stay on track, get your systems intact.

As a sitting school board member myself, I know first-hand how hard it can be to turn intentions into action. We leave each board meeting with a list of things we’ve agreed to do. And every intention of completing them. We close those board books, leave the meeting and head back to work the next day, and…work and life simply take over.

Suddenly, it’s time for the next board meeting, and…sometimes, we’re scrambling. So once those goals are approved by the board, what do you do to ensure you’re on track…never scrambling? You need to have the right systems and processes intact.

6. Name what needs to happen in order to make each goal a reality.

Each little to-do that individual board members must do to make that goal real. It’s a lot to keep track of. That’s why the Goals function in BoardOnTrack makes it simple to get a visual on what needs to be done and what’s not getting done.

7. Create a calendar for the year based on those projects and tasks.

With the projects and tasks defined, you know what your committees and board will be working on throughout the year. Map it all out, month by month.

8. Keep everyone accountable to their parts.

Accountability is important to the board as a whole, at the committee level, for each individual board member, and for your CEO or school leader.

The right system will allow you to easily track those committee goals and make your progress visible to each leader involved; to define — and review — who’s agreed to do what, so that each board member can see what’s expected of them, and each knows who’s working on what.

If you’re a BoardOnTrack member, you can simply enter your approved goals into your dashboard, log the tasks tied to each goal, and track your progress to completion. It helps to actually see the progress you’re making.

See the BoardOnTrack Goals Dashboard

Your goals are your destination. Where’s your board headed this year?

Where is your organization headed? How do you know you’re on the right track to get there? Your goals are the answer.

They give you the power to measure whether you’re on the right track. And that allows you to be the more focused, more strategic, and more effective organization you know you can be.

And to ensure that, a year from now, you don’t find yourself wondering…if our board hadn’t existed, would anything be different for the organization?

Imagine you’re reviewing your board’s performance a year from now. You’ve had a wildly successful year. What made it so great? What did the board do? How do you know that you added value?

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