Like you, I used to dread my Annual Performance Review – specifically the part where my manager would ask me to pull a number out of thin air so that he could write it down as my goal for the next year. It wasn’t a real goal. It was something I, and every other staff member came up with just to keep him happy.
Y’see, like most managers, mine was focused on the wrong things in goal-setting. Goal-setting isn’t about hitting specific numeric targets. No, no, no. If the only thing you’re concentrating on is the numbers, then you’re missing the point of goal-setting in the first place. The goal should be behaviour-based – not number-based. Change behaviors like making an extra sales call per day or arriving 5 minutes early instead of 5 minutes late or finding a way to make time for each of your team members weekly. Change the behaviors first.
Let me give you an example. If you have a personal goal to lose thirty pounds over the next year, then, I hate to tell you this but you’re probably not going to hit it. The vast majority don’t. Here’s why: you’re focused on the outcome not the goal. Y’see, losing 30 pounds isn’t the goal – it’s the RESULT of the goal. The goal should be to work with someone to train you better, teach you better food habits, make smarter choices and get you to commit to at least three workouts every week. Then if you happen to lose thirty pounds as a result of your weekly goals, good for you.
But what if you lose thirty pounds of fat and replace it with thirty pounds of muscle? If you’re only measuring your weight, you missed your goal. You spent a whole year working out and you’re still the same weight?
But that’s how you’ve been setting goals and how you’re demanding your people set goals too. But it doesn’t work. Here’s why most of it fails: people don’t hit NEW goals using OLD behaviors. If you’re not helping them improve their performance, how in the world are they supposed to be able to hit new targets?
Stop hounding your people for specific numbers for their goals. Goals don’t need to be quantifiable. They simply require a commitment to intention. It’s not the RESULT you need to be focused on but the ACTION that gets you the result. That’s the goal.
You’ve got to make your employees good at what they do first by engaging them in small steps to improvement. Then once you help them get better at their jobs, they begin to enjoy the work a little bit more. When people enjoy their work and they’re good at it, they engage better.
So here’s how you Make It Work!
You can’t just pressure people into setting an unrealistic goal just to keep you happy. Arbitrarily picking a goal won’t magically and suddenly make them productive and engaged – despite what you might think. Force people to pick a number for a goal and they’re just going to make something up to keep you happy while they look for another job.
Your goal, as manager, should be to coach your people to become highly engaged, productive employees who serve your customers and each other well. Are they quantifiable numbers? No. But let’s just say that employees are more likely to get better results if you, as their manager, set your own goal to work more closely with them and coach them to their highest ability. Then, make a goal to recognize every little incremental achievement that each one of your people makes. It engages you with them. It engages them with their performance.
The goal should be focused on what you’re doing today. Do it everyday and the result of that goal will be realized at the next Annual Performance Review. There are fifty-two weeks between Annual Performance Reviews. That’s an opportunity for fifty-two coaching sessions with your people. Think of how much better they’ll be in a year from now if you made a goal each week to coach them to be better.
Now go Make It Work!