Magazine Article | January 1, 2017

The Best Way To Set Goals In The New Year

Source: Life Science Leader

By Ken Blanchard, Ph.D., author, speaker, and business consultant

It’s no secret that all good performance starts with clear goals — and the beginning of the year is a great time to set those goals. But how many of you take the time to create clear, motivating goals with your staff?

I believe everyone has the potential to be a high performer; people just need to understand what they are being asked to do and what good performance looks like.

The children’s story Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland provides a perfect example of the importance of setting goals. When Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which path she should take, the Cheshire Cat responds, “That depends on where you want to go.” When Alice says she doesn’t know, the smiling cat says, “Then it doesn’t matter.” The same is true in the work environment. If people don’t have a clear understanding of where their focus should be, they can’t perform at their highest level.

Long gone are the days when the manager established goals for employees and handed them over as a set of directives. Today, goal setting should be a collaborative activity that manager and direct report work on together, where they write a goal statement for each area of responsibility and include standards that will be used to evaluate performance. This provides clear direction on both what the direct report needs to accomplish and how they will know they have done a good job.

The best practice is to write each goal on a separate page. Keep the goal statement short so that each day it will take less than a minute for the employee to review each goal to make sure they are on track. That’s right — I’m suggesting that everyone look at their goals every day. Why? Because too often, goals are written and then put in a folder, not to be seen again until it’s time for the annual performance review.

Creating goals and hiding them from sight for a year virtually guarantees that people won’t work on the most important projects in an organized way. But when people read their goals every day, their behaviors are more likely to match their goals, they can adjust their actions if they are veering off track, and they are constantly reminded how their work contributes to larger department or organization initiatives. This method actually lets people manage their own performance, which in turn helps them enjoy their work more and be more productive.

The best minute of the day is the one you invest in people. The start of a new year is a perfect time to work together and set goals that will not only bring out the magnificence in people but also set your organization up for success.