6 tips to setting the right goals for 2017

Happy New Year!  Some folks will be making new year resolutions, others will start the year with a month of detox, whilst others will sign up for the gym.  In our personal lives, most actions we take are focused on an outcome – attaining that beach body for summer, quitting smoking to get healthy, learning a new skill or joining a club to increase your social life.  We need to apply this same logic to our work lives, and as we think about 2017 goals and objectives, we should be starting with the desired outcomes we want to achieve.  Today’s post goes through 6 tips on how to get your work life outcome-focused and start to achieve more of what you’re capable of.

If you can’t link the objective to a business goal, why do it? – When I consider a well written set of objectives, they should be linked above 7 below.  The CEO sets the business goals, they cascade to the directors, the directors cascade to the managers, and the managers cascade to their teams.  In large organizations, it can get complicated, but even for the most junior colleagues, you should be able understand how your objectives link to the CEO’s plan.  For example, in a call centre environment, an objective around customer satisfaction can be easily linked to a business growth goal – the happiest customers spend more money and bring more referral business.  If you don’t see a link in your objectives with the business goals, push back and re-work until it does.

Don’t get stuck in a rut – Sometimes we find that our objectives are the same year to year, and are measuring tasks that are easy to measure.  Invariably after a period of time, the business needs will change, so if your objectives look no different to last year, you need to take a step back and start again.  Other than the de-motivation factor for colleagues, the suggestion that a business needs the same measures and delivery year after year is a dangerous and foolish assumption.  Keep it fresh, research how other businesses are driving results and find new ways to increase your delivery with interesting objectives.

Keep it real, make it measurable – Many of us have set ourselves impossibly challenging objectives, and felt deflated and disheartened when we failed to achieve them.  I have learned the hard way on this on many previous occasions.  Wisdom teaches us that the ability to balance the challenge (stretch goals) with the achievable is the sweet spot.  Understanding the role you play and your contribution to the business, coupled with knowledge of the business plan will give you a clear enough picture.  Stretch yourself, be bold, but equally know your limits and give yourself a chance to exceed by achieving stretch goals.

Don’t overdo it, less is more – In a similar vein to the previous point, at times we can think we are invincible, or perhaps we see that there is so much work to be done – so we set ourselves a crazy amount of goals and objectives.  Some of these will end up being tasks (they sit under the objectives, to contribute to achieving the objective.) Others will be distractions (is it really critical to deliver to make 2017 successful?)  But having too many goals and objectives will result in less achievement.  You can always review mid-year and add new items if appropriate.  Keep the number of objectives manageable and focus on excelling at them.

If it’s in the job description, it’s not a goal or objective – plain and simple.  No goals and objectives should ever include “be at work on time”, “perform daily tasks effectively” or “ensure policies are complied with”.  These things are your job, you should be doing them, so leave them out of objective setting!

Ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” – Probably the most important tip, especially for managers is to think about the outcomes you are trying to achieve.  Before you head into “solution mode”, step back and think what 31st December 2017 looks like if you had a really successful year.  Focusing on outcomes will help you focus on the goals and objectives (and de-prioritise those that won’t contribute.)  The actions you need to take will then logically flow from there. Don’t start to plan what you intend to do until you are able to articulate your 2017 outcomes.  And you’ll also find this helpful in engaging you boss, team and peers in delivering those outcomes and making 2017 a year of blazing success!

 

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