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Best Practices: Achieving Goals
Define and Surpass Your High Performance Goals
Successful business people and achievers in all fields use the techniques of goal-setting, a process that helps you decide exactly what you want to accomplish and then helps you systematically chart your course to get there.
Goals provide both long-term vision and short-term motivation. They keep employees focused and make it easier for you and your staff to organize time and resources to take advantage of opportunities. When workers focus and concentrate time, energy, and resources on a single goal, they can achieve amazing things.
The Power of Goals
Setting goals is a powerful way to boost performance. When you work toward a challenging goal, you feel motivated. Your effort translates into commitment and, ultimately, results. People with clear goals succeed because they know where they're going. In fact, organizations with formalized performance management systems have higher profits, better cash flow, stronger employee performance, productivity well above industry averages, less employee turnover, and higher rates of recruiting success.
Managing your staff is a continuous cycle of goal-setting, coaching and feedback, evaluation, and reward. When you set goals, decide on a strategy to achieve them, and agree on milestones along the way, you are establishing standards for measuring competency, the development of skills, and other aspects of your workers' on-the-job performance. Through goal-setting, you can involve employees in the organization's strategic direction,motivate them to perform at a higher level, and encourage continuing communication.
Goal-setting and goal management have other benefits. If you and your employees establish and manage goals, then formal performance reviews generally will be better experiences. Having specific and measurable goals eliminates much of the subjectivity from the evaluation process, and with it any sense of unfairness.
Goals become the standards for measuring performance. Then, the formal review—which should no longer have many surprises—is a good opportunity for you and your employees to evaluate their recent work. If employees are achieving their goals, you can reward them. For many employees, the knowledge and growth that result from stretching to reach goals are rewarding in themselves.
For Individuals and Teams
When employees are working toward a goal, every day has a mission. Their self-confidence grows as they recognize their ability to take control of their situation—and to reap rewards from their team and their organization for their accomplishments. The satisfaction they derive from this personal growth keeps them energized and motivated, fresh and productive.
The benefits of setting goals extend not only to individual employees and to you as their manager, but also to your division or organization and its bottom line. This is especially true when individual goals align with organizational goals in response to the realities of the company's industry and marketplace. When everyone in an institution is committed to these larger goals, the results can be powerful, whether the goals involve increased sales and profitability, improved customer service, or the successful integration of two post-merger companies. Strategic planning and the goal-setting that accompanies it can help a mediocre organization become a world-class performer.
Strategic planning is a structured process. Led by enlightened and trained leaders, strategic planning ultimately determines how an organization's resources can organize and direct its progress. The strategic plan guides managers as they set goals for their department and for their individual employees. The better developed the strategic-planning and goal-setting process, the more efficiently the organization will reach its goals.
Why Goals Work
The reasons that goals are effective are persuasive. Goals work in several ways:
By providing a target. One theory of human behavior, developed by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of the breakthrough book Psycho-Cybernetics, hypothesizes that each individual has a "success mechanism" that is part of the subconscious mind. This success mechanism continually searches for ways to help the individual reach targets and resolve problems. People work and feel better when their success mechanism is fully engaged. All that's needed to activate this mechanism is a target. Without one, the success mechanism lies dormant or—worse—goes after targets that were not chosen consciously. Having goals ensures that your targets represent what is most important to you.
By helping you focus your time and effort. Most people don't have a single focus during their work days or, if they do, it's on whatever happens to have landed on their desk. Goal-setters have learned to put their time, energy, and resources toward a single objective that will help accomplish some larger end. Even if they work toward this goal for a just few hours at a time, they can achieve outstanding results because of the concentration of effort. Goals provide a way to focus and concentrate time and energy on specific and meaningful targets.
By giving you desire, motivation, and persistence. To achieve something worthwhile, you may struggle and fail several times before you reach your target. High achievers pick themselves up after each fall and continue. Why don't they give up? Where do they find the motivation to persist?
Commitment to goals creates a strong sense of purpose, and that's what keeps them going. It has been said that a person with a big enough "why" can handle almost any "what" or "how." Goals can help you remember your "why" when you are faced with adversity.
By dictating priorities. It's easy to let distractions, trivial tasks, and general busyness fill your work days, or to allow other people's interests to govern your time. Goals—and the missions, visions, and dreams that inspired them—provide a natural framework that clarifies your priorities so that your choices are based on the long-term view of what is most important to you. There are many forks in the road between where you are now and where you want to be, and goals keep you on the right road.
By giving you a road map. When you are committed to goals, you will use all your resources to accomplish them. For large, seemingly impossible goals, you need to craft a strategy to reach them by establishing milestones, or intermediate goals, that are easier to achieve. Then you can get to work on each piece. Your intermediate goals help you measure your progress and can warn you if you are getting off course. Then you can make adjustments to your plans and overall strategy as you encounter and overcome obstacles and setbacks, and learn from your mistakes.Best Practices: Achieving Goals
Define and Surpass Your High Performance Goals. Copyright © by Kathleen Schienle. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.