To achieve Step 11, individuals will show that they can develop plans that include clear targets in them, to support making progress as tangible as possible.
In the previous step, the focus was on how to create plans informed by your skillset and that of others. This step builds on this, by thinking about how to make plans focused, and to be able to track progress through those plans.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
Creating plans has been a major focus of Aiming High throughout the steps. Before plans can be created, of course, the most vital thing is to know what the purpose or goal of the plan is.
We can then work back from that goal to think about what needs to happen, how to order and prioritise those tasks, securing the right resources, involving others, and drawing on the skills we need to complete our plan.
This step builds on this further by asking how we can make progress tangible as we implement our plans.
You are already familiar with goals, and targets are the complement to goal setting. Targets become the tangible measure of whether a goal has been achieved.
For instance, our goal might be to increase the number of young people participating in competitive sport. We might turn this into a target of having a 10% increase in participation over one year.
As a reminder, targets should always be SMART:
This means that they are:
It is important to think carefully about the targets that you set. They will inevitably become a key focus of your efforts, and so you want to make sure that they are really representative of achieving the goal.
As you develop your targets, there are some key questions to think about:
In education we might create plans for specific subjects, or projects within a subject, and use clear targets to help us see how much progress we are making and to recognise when our goals have been achieved. For example, if my plan is to improve my French marks in my next test by one grade, I could set clear targets around learning 50 pieces of new vocabulary, two new tenses and revising the corrected spelling mistakes from my previous test.
This step is also important when creating longer-term plans for the next steps in education or work. If you have an idea of what you would like to study or do in the future, you can work backwards to map out your plan to achieving that goal; for example, there may be particular subjects, qualifications or work experience needed when you apply.
Sometimes we can set our own targets and at other times teachers may offer their advice and include targets in their feedback. SMART targets make sure the balance is not so easy that we aren’t learning but not so difficult that our goal is impossible to achieve. Following specific targets within a realistic time frame helps keep progress on track as we work towards achieving our plan; checking against them can show us if we need further support from peers or teachers to reach our goals.
In the workplace, relevant targets can be motivating, provide direction and keep work on track over longer periods of time. SMART targets highlight progress and success, and help to inform decisions in the process to achieving a long-term goal. Following clear targets, either at an individual, team ororganisational level, also helps to focus on the aspects of work which are a priority. If we are given unclear or irrelevant targets, it is difficult to know what work needs to be done or what is most important. When SMART targets are achieved, this success can be celebrated and can result in recognition and reward, such as a bonus or promotion.
At work you may be responsible for setting some of your own targets or these may be set for you by a line manager or head of department. Setting clear targets helps everyone contribute to the organisation’s overall plan and mission.
For anything that we want to achieve or improve in our wider life, setting clear targets will help us to complete our plans. Without the direction of a plan, and an indication of what success looks like, it makes it easier to give up on our plans or to lower our standards. For example, if my plan was to renovate and improve my home, without setting clear targets for what I want it to look like, how much money I have to spend and how long it should take to do, I could easily spend too much, waste time and end up with a home which is worse than it was before. We might also use SMART targets to help us save up for something or to give us a clearer direction with plans, such as aiming to visit 50 countries before you turn 50. SMART targets help motivate us to keep making an effort and show us when we have been successful.
To best practise this step of Aiming High, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step can be reinforced whenever learners are being asked to set targets for themselves or for some aspects of their work. It can also be reinforced whenever learners are exploring relevant topics in business, politics, economics or other subject areas.
This step is best assessed by setting learners an exercise – giving them a scenario and asking them to develop SMART targets that support that help to make that goal tangible and measurable.
This step is relevant to individuals who can help the team to succeed by making plans to achieve goals.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through discussion. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed for by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: