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Monday, January 30, 2012

Goal Setting- Feedback

I want to round out the goal setting discussion by focusing on the importance of feedback.  To illustrate, feedback has played a critical role in a current client business coaching engagement.  To begin the coaching process this past summer, we employed a 360° feedback mechanism to help set priorities for the client's development.  Feedback was first necessary to set goals and priorities. 

Based on areas for improvement, we developed four questions that she asks herself each and every day.  There are all “yes” or “no” questions.  (As example, a question I ask myself every day is “Did I do something to develop new business today?”  because one of my goals for the year is revenue growth target.)  She has them posted by her computer and we begin each session by going through those questions, regardless of the focus of that particular session.  This is a simple personal feedback mechanism that was set in place to hold herself accountable.

Finally, providing feedback to her subordinates is important to this client’s development as a leader.  She is already good at providing feedback and motivation to her team, but her business has grown large enough that she needs (and desires) to have a process in place that helps her provide ongoing feedback for development and evaluation.   

At every step in the process, feedback has played a critical role in establishing success.

What feedback mechanisms do you use to personally hold yourself accountable or those you lead accountable?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Goal Setting- Diminishing Returns

In my last post, I talked about the importance of goal commitment when setting goals for yourself and/or those you lead. 

Today, I want to discuss the law of diminishing returns and how it relates to goal setting.   I have honestly thought about dozen of different things that I want to focus on for the New Year, have you? The law of diminishing returns tells us that the more goals we set, the less likely we are to achieve them.  One goal distracts from another, leaving us less likely to accomplish anything.  

From a personal perspective, one way to avoid this is to have a mission statement (see the January 2nd post) and make sure that any goal you set is related to that purpose.  Another way is to answer the two questions that Stephen Covey advocates for asking in his chapter on “Principles of Personal Management” in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  They are:
Question 1: “What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?
Question 2: What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?” (pp 146)

These can be very simple things.  The key is, there are only two actions or goals and they are done regularly (see last week's post on changing behaviors to create habits and goal commitment).

From a leadership perspective, the law of diminishing returns tells us, keep it simple.  Too many goals tell those we lead that nothing really is important (and we tell ourselves this when we set too many for ourselves).   I recently heard a Facility Manager in a meeting say that he had three things he focuses on and measures relentlessly (based on lean principles) with his team of over 700 people.   He said he never leaves a meeting with anyone without focusing on those three key goals.  

Nothing gives us all ADD more than too many priorities.  Have you experienced ADD, and therefore diminished results, because of too many goals or priorities?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Goal Setting- A Series

Research has shown that goal setting, if done correctly, is one of the most supported motivational techniques (Jex  & Britt 2008). Setting goals can help you maximize success for yourself and/or the people that you lead.  

We’ve all heard of the acronym “SMART” that guides good goal setting:
Time bound

I certainly advocate for following these guides with any resolution or goal you set.   But there are three things that I want to focus on over the next few weeks that have been shown to be important components of goal setting that are not emphasized as much as the acronym components: 

1.       Goal Commitment
2.       The law of diminishing returns
3.       Feedback 

In terms of commitment, before you set a New Year’s resolution, honestly examine how committed you are to the goal.  Many people fail because the behaviors that lead to goal attainment are not established as habits. For example, losing weight is one of the classic goal setting examples.  If your goal is to loose 10 pounds in 3 months, if you don't modify your behavior to make it a habit to exercise more and eat less, it isn't going to work.  Your behaviors reflect your commitment.
If you’re a leader and need to foster goal commitment with those you lead, here are two tips: 

1.       Set goals with the people you lead versus for them (participative goal setting) –or-
2.       If you have to set goals for people, “sell” don’t “tell” those goals

If you’re interested in reading more about how and why goal setting works and how goal commitment is intertwined in this, check out “Goal-Setting- A Motivational Technique That Works” by Gary Latham and Edwin Locke.

I’ll talk about the law of diminishing returns next week and why feedback is important as well as some tools for providing feedback to yourself or those you lead to round out January’s posts.

Reference: Jex, S.M. & Britt, T.W. (2008).  Organizational Psychology: A Scientist- Practitioner Approach. 2nd ed. Wiley. pp 247.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Your "Stop Doing" List

Before you start to set goals or resolutions for the year, I want to share a great article by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great.  The article, titled “Best New Year’s Resolution?  A ‘Stop Doing’ List  was published in the USA Today in 2003. 

I think you’ll find that one of the best ways to live your mission, which should be your passion, is to consider whether or not you need to “stop doing” before you start doing. 

What do you need to “stop doing” before you can truly start this year?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Strategic Resolutions

In the workplace, we often focused on setting strategic goals and objectives that stem from a core mission.  For example, I’ve been working on a Workforce Development Strategic Plan for MCEDA and the Chamber that will guide our efforts over the next few years.   It begins with a vision, mission and values statement to direct the purpose of the plan. We constantly refer to these guiding statements to determine the goals and plans we set.

 It seems a though, we often neglect to think strategically as individual professionals and people.  So this year, as we start the time of making New Years’ Resolutions, I would encourage you to think about your purpose both personally and professionally, realizing that both should be intricately intertwined.   This should help you set your goals for the year.

A way to do this is to develop a mission statement for yourself.  In Dave Ramsey’s book, EntreLeadership, he advocates for creating personal and business mission statements.   Mission statements should answer the what, how and why of you.  For example, my professional and company mission is, “to provide career and leadership coaching and consulting that leads to a passionate and productive workforce.”

You can find a worksheet for developing a mission statement at:  How to Develop a Mission Statement: EntreLeadership Online Worksheet

Once you’ve done this, you are better equipped to set goals or resolutions for the year.  Throughout the month of January, I’ll be providing food for thought about how to put your mission statement into action.  There is no one size fits all, or a best way to do this, so I’ll be offering different insights and you can decide what is helpful to you.

Do you have a mission statement?  If so, how does it help you focus your priorities or resolutions for the new year?