The importance of sensible goals

The importance of sensible goals

It’s that time of the year. Goal setting, putting plans into action. As we transition from reflection to projection, we optimistically start our new journey. Lose weight. Exercise more. Save more money. Be kinder. Be better. And then, 12 months later, we do it all again. Why do so many fail at keeping resolutions, and what can be done to increase the chances for success and real change, real improvement, real achievement of goals?

The answer is surprisingly simple. Too often, goals are standalone. Essentially, we set a goal prior to or, worse, without setting a plan to achieve. Even when actions have been identified, they are often not benchmarked against the goal - are these actions actually driving change? So we give up, frustrated that we made little to no progress, and we vow to try again another time.

Suppose you want to lose weight (a very common goal). Most people understand that this requires a change in diet and increase in physical activity. But if people change their diets without understanding the impact of the change, and without specific goals in mind, they may be in for a rude awakening - a decrease in caloric intake alone doesn’t always mean a decrease in weight. Same goes for exercising. Often, muscle growth comes before fat loss, and that can be a shock at the scale. A well planned, customized diet and exercise program, with specific meal plans, exercises, and goals - individualized based on each person’s starting point - has a much higher chance of success than a verbalized resolution to lose weight, which only amounts to a wish.

This same philosophy can be applied to organizational and employee performance goals. Most organizations are cost-conscious and, ideally and increasingly, interested in providing exceptional service. Employee performance and productivity play key roles in achieving these goals, so it is imperative that the employee skillset and goals align with the organizational goals. Measuring metrics and kpis that are in line with organizational goals, and understanding the underlying causes of outstanding or poor performance (or any level in-between) can significantly reduce time spent training and coaching on skills and behaviors that mean little to the organization. Analysis of impact of quality and training is also critical. Organizations should be asking themselves whether the quality and knowledge management programs and materials are really improving employee performance (and thus organizational performance), and adjust accordingly. An organization dedicated to finding and fixing skill gaps with impactful quality and learning initiatives that can be measured against employee and organizational success has a much higher chance of success than one that merely relies on detached measurements and disconnected goals.

Here’s to a successful 2016 and goals, intentions and results that are understood, aligned, and achieved.

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