Have you set job-related goals? Are strategic goals included among the goals you’ve set?
These questions came to mind after a recent coaching session with a long-standing client, Jen H. (not her real name). We were discussing goals. It wasn’t our first conversation on the topic. As soon as she accepted the new position, a lateral move after nearly 15 years in a similar post at a different company, we set goals for the first 90 days on the job.
The first few months went well. She asked if I would help her set goals for the next year. I did and that went well. We did the same thing the next year. As the months passed a positive review and hefty bonus confirmed that she remained on track.
This year Jen had a different question. Instead of asking for my help in setting goals she said she had set some goals for the coming year and was hoping she could run them by me. I agreed and she rattled off a list of 3 objectives that would definitely serve her well in the months to come. We honed the list to include a strategic component and once again the ball is in her court to make it happen.
Jen’s experience with goal setting on the job offers two important lessons. It illustrates, first, the power of goal setting. Jen is an extremely intelligent, talented professional with a terrific record. Working with goals essentially let her stack the deck on the new job from day one. She wasn’t just offering her excellent professional contribution. From the very first she had a personal agenda stating clearly what progress she wanted to make at the company. Her list of goals created a roadmap that she could reference to support and direct the process of making new connections and establishing herself in her new position.
Jen clearly internalized the benefit goal setting offered her smooth upward trajectory in the now-not-so-new company. How can we tell? This year she wasn’t asking whether we could set goals. Instead, she had carried out the process herself to get that direction on paper. Our conversation allowed refinement of an existing workable plan.
Job-based goal setting can enhance your performance in a similar fashion. Do you have goals for the job? Do they take into account not just what the company wants to see from you but what you want to make happen at the company?
Goals that track what the company wants allow you to meet or exceed expectations. They expose weak spots, if any, and point the way to necessary improvements and enhancements. You may set these goals collaboratively with your managers as part of a review process. Or you may create them on your own based on both formal and informal feedback. These goals tend to focus on performance questions such as what you will do, what deliverables you will produce, or what profits you’ll generate.
The best goal setting is also strategic in that it goes beyond your present position and focuses on your career and “Brand You.” When setting these goals the question is what path is your professional trajectory taking.
Do you have a well developed network at your present company? Do you also have a carefully tended external network?
Are you a visible presence inside and outside the firm or do you toil without recognition? What are you known for? Does this reputation shortchange some of your key contributions? Can you do something about that?
What about your future hopes? Do you have the training, education and experience you’re going to need to jump to the next level? How does your salary compare to what you would like to be earning at this point or in five years? Is there something you can do in the near term to get it from where you are right now?
A goal setting session addressing these questions systematically and comprehensively is something you can carry out in as little as half a day. The task involves taking a careful, accurate look at yourself on the job and as an independent professional. Comparing what you find to where you would like to be next year is the next step. The goals you create flow naturally from this analysis. They state what you need to do to close the gap between today and that desired destination.
Get going and get goal setting. You will find the path to excellence easier and more direct if you do. And you deserve that success.
For free goal setting worksheets and to learn more about setting professional goals visit Anne Clarke’s website www.setting-and-achieving-goals.com.