What are Clear Goals?
For many of us achieving New Year’s Resolutions and Annual bonuses are not easy goals. What is the secret to achieving them?
-Drum roll- The secret is knowing how to set CLEAR GOALS. -Drum roll-
Is “I’m going to start jogging this year!” a clear goal?
No. It’s not. I bet that most people who’ve had that for a New Year’s resolution don’t end up jogging at all.
How about this one? -“This year, I’m going to work the hardest and be the best employee within my company” a clear goal?
Surprise! No, it isn’t.
I won’t bore you with the philosophy of goal setting and ‘facts’ from consulting companies. The skinny is that — a goal lends a purpose to a person whether it be for personal or corporate reasons where the best goals are SMART ones: Specific, Measurable, Achievable (and Agreed), Relevant and Time-bound.
What that means is that “My goal is to jog 1 mile by the end of January to feel better about myself. Initially, I aim to jog a quarter mile every second day and then increase it by a quarter mile each week.” is a clear goal. It is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. In fact, it also tells you how to get there. I bet that if we set clear goals like this, we will end up achieving them more often than not.
When we set our personal goals without the above guidelines, most of the time, we never even start to work on it. Or, often, we give up in a couple days. Think about all those New Year’s Resolutions we’ve made through the years…….
“While playing soccer if your team does not know where the goals are and the other team does, then what are the odds that your team would win the game? This is the difference between ok teams and good teams — the latter know where they want to go which provides them a huge advantage.”
The importance of setting clear goals could not be summed up better. If you do not know where you are going and by when you should be there, do you even have a chance of getting there on time?
In our everyday work environment, managers need to set clear goals for their team. Only then does the team know where to go. Because, we, managers and employees alike, inherently want to understand the importance of our current task, what steps are needed to complete it, what resources we have access to, how our tasks benefit the company and who else may be involved.
Knowing that our work is critical gives us great satisfaction while performing our tasks. When a task has no deadline, we, most of the time, never start to work on it because there is no reason or pressure to do so. Furthermore, we feel demotivated with tasks that do not match our expertise and where we don’t see the impact of their actions. Thus, any assignment should be relevant to the assignee’s background and position in the company.
Goals In Practise
In the workplace, goal-related issues pop up often. How many times have we been involved in discussions like these?
Manager: Have you finished that report?
Employee A: Which report?
Manager: The report on X?
Employee B: Well, we started that 2 weeks ago and then a week ago you prioritized tasks Y and Z over it.
Manager: You mean to say that report X is not done?
Employee A: Yes, because I’ve been doing task Y and Z as you asked. And, there’s good news. In fact, task Y is almost finished and task Z is halfway done.
Manager: Gosh… put task Y and Z on halt and give me the report on X as quickly as possible.
Employee B: Ok… shall I finish task Y first, it will take me only another 2 hrs…
Manager: No, no, no. Our CEO was expecting report X yesterday and has called me twice about it already. Finish that immediately. Our yearly bonus depends on it.
Employee C: What??!! We wish we knew how critical this was. We also would have pitched in.
Our initial thought would be that, no, no no…. this is definitely not us. But, in reality, things like this happen too often… Unpacking everything in that discussion will take some time. In short, neither the manager nor the employees are in the wrong. Leaving aside communication gaps, feedback loops, and everything else… neither the manager nor do rest of the team know what their goals are and how their performance will be assessed. And this decreases their ability to do well even if they are the smartest and hardest working people in the world.
So, to achieve our New Year’s Resolutions and to get those yearly bonuses let’s do the right thing first and set clear SMART goals, and then chase away at them.