(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

CLEAR Goals: Definition, Examples, Advantages, and Disadvantages

When trying to reach a goal, it is best to have every possible tool at your disposal. While SMART goals have been a powerful tool for many entrepreneurs, individuals, and leaders to help them reach their business goals, they may not always be the right method.

This is especially true if your goals require more collaboration or flexibility. If that is the case, using CLEAR goals may be a better option. But what are CLEAR goals and how do they work? In this article, we will outline what these types of goals are, present some examples, and also give some advantages and disadvantages of this framework.

What are CLEAR Goals?

CLEAR goals offer a fresh perspective on setting objectives. CLEAR is an acronym for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Refinable. This method diverges from the traditional SMART goals framework. Using this method to set business goals can be more effective for entrepreneurs who have a team they want to lead toward accomplishing objectives. This is because CLEAR goals emphasize flexibility, emotional engagement, and the importance of collaboration.

The Collaborative aspect highlights the significance of teamwork and shared objectives. Collaboration is becoming invaluable as the business landscape continues to increase in its competitive nature. According to a report by QUC, about 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”. However, it isn’t just leadership that thinks collaboration is important, the same study found that 52% of employees in the U.S. also rate teamwork as being “very important”. These figures acknowledge that many of today’s projects require collective effort and diverse skill sets to achieve success.

Limited, in this context, refers to setting goals with clear boundaries and timelines. Having a limited amount of time and clear boundaries can help make objectives more manageable. It can also help team members and leadership stay focused. Emotional connection to a goal is critical for motivation. When individuals feel passionate about their objectives, they are more likely to commit to and achieve them. This goes for owners, leaders, and other employees.

Appreciable breaks down large goals into smaller, manageable tasks. By doing this, it makes it easier to see progress and maintain motivation. Lastly, Refinable allows for the goals to be adjusted as circumstances change. On the road to accomplishing goals, anything can happen. Making goals refinable allows for more flexibility to adjust and even pivot, if necessary.


CLEAR Goals Examples in Business

To better understand how CLEAR goals can be implemented within a business context. Let’s say a business wants to conduct a new product launch and wants to set goals around that launch. Let’s take a look at how they could set some CLEAR goals to achieve this. 

  • Collaborative-Create a cross-functional launch team involving members from product development, marketing, sales, and customer service. This team will work together to align the product’s features with market needs, develop comprehensive promotional strategies, and create a seamless customer support framework.
  • Limited- Successfully launch the new software product within the next quarter, achieving a minimum of $500,000 in sales and securing at least 1000 active users within the first-month post-launch.
  • Emotional- Connect the goal to the values and emotions of the team and stakeholders to drive engagement and motivation. “Empower the team to revolutionize the way our target market manages their projects making their work-life smoother and more productive. Have a company-wide celebration once the product is launched.
  • Appreciable- Complete market analysis by the end of month one, finalize product features and development in month two and execute a targeted marketing campaign in month three, monitoring progress weekly to adjust strategies as needed.
  • Refinable- Regularly review and refine launch strategies every two weeks based on feedback from beta testers and early marketing results. Adjust product features, pricing, and promotional tactics to better meet customer needs and market demand.

Advantages of CLEAR Goals

Let’s look deeper into how this framework can significantly benefit organizations. We’ll start with looking at some of the advantages and then go on to examine some of the disadvantages. 

Enhanced Collaboration

 One of the most important advantages of CLEAR goals is the aspect of collaboration. This is a key component missing from the SMART goals framework. When business leaders set CLEAR goals, they create the potential for a more collaborative work environment. This collaborative approach not only breaks down silos between departments but also encourages a culture of open and continuous communication.

When teams work together towards a common objective, they can pool their resources, insights, and expertise. This can lead to more innovative solutions and a stronger sense of community within the organization. On the other hand, SMART goals may create a sense of isolation if those goals are fragmented throughout the organization.

Emotional Engagement

As we mentioned earlier, people are more likely to be motivated and moved to accomplish a goal if there is an emotional attachment to the goal. By emphasizing emotional connection to goals, CLEAR goals tap into the powerful motivator of personal investment. When employees see how their work contributes to the broader objectives of the organization and aligns with their values and interests, they are more likely to be engaged and put forth their best effort.

There is growing evidence that the more emotionally attached a person or people are to a goal, the increased likelihood that the goal will be reached. There is also evidence that the type of emotion attached isn’t necessarily important. For example, according to an article published by the American Psychological Association, even anger can be a motivating emotion.

In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers conducted a series of experiments involving more than 1,000 participants and analyzed survey data from more than 1,400 respondents. In each experiment, researchers elicited either an emotional response (such as anger, amusement, desire, or sadness) or a neutral emotional state, and then presented participants with a challenging goal.

Across all the experiments, anger improved people’s ability to reach their goals compared with a neutral condition in a variety of challenging situations. In some cases, amusement or desire were also associated with increased goal attainment.


Flexibility and Adaptability

With industries seemingly getting disrupted every few years, the ability to adapt and refine goals is a significant advantage. The refinable aspect of CLEAR goals ensures that organizations are not rigidly tied to a set path but can pivot in response to new challenges. This doesn’t mean that the goals are not supposed to be specific business goals like when using SMART goals. However, they do allow for a change in direction to take advantage of any new opportunities or information that comes their way.

This flexibility allows businesses to stay relevant and competitive, even in volatile markets. This adaptability is especially crucial for long-term sustainability and growth. In contrast, SMART goals often do not allow for much flexibility. In fact, one could argue that while setting SMART goals, the Attainable aspect of the goal makes it so there is no need to be flexible as the goal is attainable enough that there shouldn’t be a need to readjust.

Increased Transparency

 While collaboration is a key aspect, CLEAR goals also promote transparency within teams. By setting clear, appreciable milestones and ensuring goals are aligned with individual and team responsibilities, organizations can keep an eye on everything going on within the organization and if what is happening is in line with the direction leaders want to go.

This clarity helps in tracking progress and identifying areas where support or adjustments are needed. Also, the transparent nature of collaborative goals ensures that all team members are aware of their roles and the expectations placed upon them, fostering a culture of accountability and shared responsibility.


Disadvantages of CLEAR Goals

Expanding on the disadvantages of CLEAR goals provides a more nuanced understanding of the challenges and considerations organizations must navigate when implementing this framework:

Potential for Lack of Consistency

The flexibility that CLEAR goals afford can sometimes lead to a lack of long-term consistency and focus. Organizations may find it challenging to adhere to a strategic direction if goals are frequently refined or altered in response to short-term changes or obstacles.

This can make it difficult to measure progress over time. If this happens, it creates the potential for strategic drift. This is where the organization’s long-term vision becomes blurred or lost because of constant adjustments. Maintaining a balance between adaptability and consistency is crucial to ensure that the organization does not lose sight of its overarching ambitions and objectives.

Risk of Diluted Accountability

The collaborative aspect of CLEAR goals is designed to leverage the collective strength of teams. However, this can also complicate accountability. When responsibilities are shared across teams or departments, it might become challenging to pinpoint who should be held accountable if there are setbacks or negative outcomes.

This diffusion of responsibility can lead to a “someone else will do it” mentality. This can potentially hinder prompt action and decision-making. Ensuring that collaborative goals are accompanied by clear delineations of responsibility and accountability mechanisms is essential to mitigate this risk.

Emotional Risks

 Previously, we mentioned that emotion can be a great motivator to help individuals and organizations reach their goals. The emphasis on emotional engagement with CLEAR goals aims to enhance motivation and commitment. However, there are several downsides to using emotions to fuel goal accomplishment.

For one, this emotional investment can heighten the impact of setbacks or failures. If goals require significant revision or are not met, it can lead to feelings of disappointment, frustration, or demotivation among team members. This emotional toll can affect morale over time. Also, it may contribute to burnout or increased turnover. This is especially true if employees feel their efforts are not resulting in meaningful progress or recognition.

There is also the risk of things being done incorrectly or unethically if emotions drive decision-making. In the previously cited Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study, researchers found that, in one experiment there was an increase in cheating to achieve a better outcome if anger was a motivating factor.

Organizations must be mindful of these potential emotional risks and develop supportive strategies to manage setbacks and maintain morale.

Overemphasis on Collaboration

 While collaboration is critical for achieving complex objectives, an overemphasis on collaborative decision-making can sometimes slow down progress. In cases where consensus is difficult to achieve or where too many stakeholders are involved in every decision, the organization may experience delays and inefficiencies. Finding the right balance between collaborative input and decisive action is necessary to ensure that collaboration serves as a strength rather than a hindrance.


Also read:

How to Set More Achievable Goals

Outcome Goals Vs. Process Goals: The Importance of Using Both

6 Types of Business Goals You Should Understand

Ralph Paul on Twitter
Ralph Paul
Ralph is the Managing Editor at StartUp Mindset. The StartUp Mindset team consists of dedicated individuals and is designed to help new, seasoned, and aspiring entrepreneurs succeed.

Like this article? Get updates by email and get our eBook for FREE

Subscribe and Get Updates!


Invalid email address
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Article Tags:
· · · · ·
Article Categories:
Find Your Way · Goals · Grow Your Business · Productivity · Sales · Your Mindset

Ralph is the Managing Editor at StartUp Mindset. The StartUp Mindset team consists of dedicated individuals and is designed to help new, seasoned, and aspiring entrepreneurs succeed.

Recent Posts

Related Posts

Popular Posts

Comments are closed.