Goal Setting, Mental Toughness, and the Manager’s Role

Best-selling business author Scott Blanchard says managers who are effective at goal setting with their people keep two things in mind:

  1. The big picture—why we are doing it and what matters about it?
  2. The short term—what do we need to do now to move forward toward the larger goal?

Blanchard gives an example of
this process:

“I just finished some work with a
fairly large organization that has sixteen general managers. I asked if I could
interview two of the GMs who were achieving the best results. Even though I
interviewed them independently, their approach to goal setting was remarkably similar.

“Both of these GMs set big goals
and have clear expectations with their people that the goals will be met. They
also stress the importance and discipline of a weekly Monday meeting to discuss
with their team what’s in front of them this week, what they can handle, and
what they need to do to accomplish the larger goal. They succeed in the long
run by focusing on the short run and connecting the two.”

Blanchard says another important
key for successful goal setting is resilience—the
ability to adjust when things don’t progress as planned.

“Rarely do things go exactly as
planned. But too often when things go awry, instead of talking about what can
be done to get things back on track, people come to a full stop.

“My clients referred to what they
call “mental toughness”: the ability to keep performing when things change, go
sour, or take longer than planned. Early in the process, teams are primed with
the mindset that things aren’t always going to go smoothly—and they are given
ways to respond in the moment to achieve the best possible result. Goal setting
is not meant to be static. If the team is stuck or heading in the wrong
direction, the manager works with them to restate the goal and make

Blanchard also emphasizes that
regular check-ins are especially important when the goal is new, difficult, or one
the team has not achieved successfully in the past. “When a team is focusing on
something new or challenging, frequent check-ins with the manager are essential.
As the team gains confidence and demonstrates competence, these meetings can be
scheduled further apart.

“In both our SLII® and our First-time
Manager programs we teach that once goals are set, managers need to check in
with team members on a regular basis to remind them what they are trying to
accomplish and why it matters. Managers also need to take opportunities to have
praising conversations when things are going well and redirection conversations
when things deviate from the plan.  

“Over time, as people become more
confident and trusted, the manager can delegate more and pull back on the
frequency and intensity of these conversations. As people become self-reliant, the
manager can turn over the responsibility for achieving the goals to the
individual or the team.”

It’s all part of seeing the
leader/direct report relationship as a partnership, explains Blanchard.

“It’s about working side by side with
people—providing direction and support in a way that lets them grow into their
autonomy. For example, when a salesperson is working for a sales manager, their
goals are interdependent. As the salesperson demonstrates an increased capacity
to achieve the goal, the manager can direct a little less and use more of a
coaching style. Instead of telling, the manager is asking and listening.

“Setting goals is a foundation
for success,” says Blanchard, “and having clear agreements about performance
expectations, with regular check-ins, is the process for getting there. Obstacles
that can undermine relationships and results are a lack of clarity and a lack
of clear agreement.

“When things really matter, effective
managers make the effort to ensure the team is crystal clear on goals and
procedures. This takes extra time at the beginning of a project, but it will
pay dividends in the long term. Plus, it sets a process in place that the team
can use on future projects.

“That’s a win-win for everybody,”
says Blanchard.


Would you like to learn more about helping your managers develop their
goal-setting, direction, and support skills? Then join Scott Blanchard for a
free webinar!

3 Steps to Building a Purposeful, Aligned, and Engaged Workforce

February 20, 2019, 9:00 a.m.
Pacific Time

In this webinar, best-selling
business author Scott Blanchard will share a 3-step process for creating a
focused, purpose-driven, and engaged work environment. Blanchard will show
participants how to

  • Set clear goals at the individual, team,
    department, and organizational level
  • Identify motivation and competency for
    identified tasks
  • Ask for—or provide—the resources needed to get
    the job done

This webinar is designed for
leadership, learning, and talent development professionals charged with
improving leadership skills and overall organizational performance. Don’t miss
this opportunity to learn how to create a focused, purposeful, and aligned work
environment in your organization.

this link to register today!

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