How to Set SMART Goals and Hold Your Team Accountable

Has this ever happened to you?

You have an in-depth meeting with your leadership team to set company goals. Everybody agrees on what needs to be accomplished.

But when you regroup 30, 60, or even 90 days later…your team hasn’t made any progress. 

The goals that felt so concrete are now squishy and unclear. 

You don’t agree on what the next steps were supposed to be. 

And nobody has taken responsibility for moving the ball forward.

That’s the problem with setting goals that don’t have built-in accountability. “When it’s everyone’s responsibility, it’s nobody’s job.”

That lack of accountability, even among your most reliable team members, is technically known as “diffusion of responsibility,” and it accounts for many companies’ failure to get traction toward their goals.

EOS® (the Entrepreneurial Operating System®) has a better method for goal-setting. In EOS, goals are known as Rocks. Rocks are assigned to one person on the Senior Leadership Team and must be completed in the subsequent 90 days

S.M.A.R.T. Rocks

Really good Rocks that move the needle for your company follow the S.M.A.R.T. framework:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

“Assignable” (aka Accountable) is the workaround for the diffusion of responsibility problem. 


Remember that it’s always an individual who drives any initiative in your organization. Put another way: think about how often you use the phrase “we” when talking about what your team needs to accomplish. “We” isn’t a person or entity, and therefore “we” can’t get anything done.


It’s always an individual who drives any initiative in your organization.


Company vs Individual Rocks

I could write a book on the difference between Company and Individual Rocks. It takes a mature leadership team to understand the difference, but once you do, you’ll be hyperfocused on the right priorities. 


Company Rocks. EOS says to set between 1-7 company Rocks. Less is more. 

  • These goals are the core 90-day focus for the entire organization. 
  • They do not need to be distributed evenly throughout your leadership team. 
  • They can be completed by one person or be company-wide initiatives. 

Individual Rocks. There may be 25-30 individual Rocks, all important goals to be completed by your team members.

  • Their order of magnitude is less important than company Rocks.
  • Individual Rocks are often in service of company Rocks.
  • Designing individual Rocks forces you to prioritize and put company Rocks first.

Accountability vs Execution

When companies first onboard EOS, there’s usually some confusion about accountability vs execution. The tendency is to assign a Rock to the person who’s going to do most of the work to accomplish the goal. 

Instead, Rocks should be assigned to the person accountable—a senior leader in charge of managing the project to completion. They may do some or all of the work to get there, but the Rock is based on accountability, not execution.

That’s why EOS discourages the Visionary from owning too many Rocks. While their involvement may be required to hit certain Rocks, managing projects isn’t typically a Visionary’s strong suit. They need external accountability, usually from their Integrator, to be successful.

Goal Setting for 2021

Make sure to include S.M.A.R.T., accountability-based Rocks in your annual planning. If you need a gut-check on your goal setting or want help building your strategy for 2021, contact us. Let’s start the conversation so you’re ready to “Rock” by January. (haha)

–Eric Crews
Founder & President
Crews Consulting Group 


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