New Year, New Goals

Setting goals for the year? Make HOW Design Live 2015 one of your priorities. HOW delivers everything you need to pursue a fulfilling, successful career in-house—in one essential event.

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During the past holiday season, a time when football, hockey, friends, family and snow angels converge, a personal workload could rival the magnitude of a professional one. While in the midst of juggling all the joy and happiness culminating in a unified count down to the New Year, there’s one professional ball in-house managers would not want to see dropped—performance goal-setting.

No worries! January is a perfect time for in-house team leaders and team members to set new performance goals as well as reposition objectives carried over from the previous year.

Performance goals are critical to the professional development of each person contributing to an in-house team and can affect the good health and viability of the entire department. How these goals are developed, communicated and implemented can also play a role in determining your success as an in-house manager.

There are several components to consider when developing, redefining or eliminating goals. The annual performance review is an important document both managers and employees can use to bring more clarity to the goal-setting process. Begin by reviewing the outcome of the previous year’s performance review. Examine whether each employees’ established goals were met, exceeded or not realized. And if a goal was not met, dig a little deeper and learn the reasons why.

Talk about those specific goals that were assigned in a collaborative discussion with each employee contributing to the team. Chances are the goal (or goals) weren’t relevant by yearend due to the changing needs of the company, in-house department, or client. Maybe they weren’t clearly defined or the time allotted to complete the goal simply ran out; unfortunately this can happen to the best of us. Then together determine if the goal(s) need to be revised and transferred into the new year.

After reviewing year-end performance reviews and previously established goals, examine any new departmental or company-wide goals. Ask each person how their individual contributions will assist in meeting those objectives. You may be surprised by their answers and where the conversation leads you. Their comments will reveal if they clearly understand how their role impacts the organization and lubricates the engine that powers the company toward success. This is also a great time to adjust the purpose of each person’s role and better align them with your employer’s strategic vision.

Don’t be surprised if some folks aren’t able to articulate why their role exists outside of performing day-to-day tasks. This is the point where the rubber meets the road in goal setting because it is important to delineate the difference between goals and tasks. Simply put, goals reflect the big picture and tasks are the details that are like pixels, when grouped together they help to create the big picture. And if those pixels aren’t positioned in the correct place, that big picture will become a distorted and unclear mess.

When developing a goal it is important to make sure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely, also known as SMART. I recently learned through an intensive training course one easy but also very solid way to construct a goal:

  1. Begin each sentence with an action verb.
  2. Describe in one sentence what needs to be achieved.
  3. Describe briefly in the second sentence those resources required to accomplish the goal.
  4. Include a realistic date when the goal will be completed.

Finally, in-house managers need to be able to measure and articulate what success looks like for each team contributor. Keep in mind that developmental goals can evolve over several years while others, more tactical in nature, can be performed within a few days or weeks. Either way, each goal needs to be clearly defined with a deadline established for completion. Following these steps will ensure that your team is productive throughout the year with a clear set of goals positioning them for professional success.

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