This goal cycle, you were excited about keeping track of your goals. Of course that seems so long ago and let’s be honest, the enthusiasm has worn off a little. You’re frustrated to find that your goals either were hard to keep track of, don’t feel relevant to your work, or just slipped your mind, even as you were working hard at your job. You might be tempted to believe that setting goals are just not for you, but that doesn’t have to be true. You can get back on track with your goals right now, and here’s how.
If you’re a manager looking to keep your direct reports on track with their goals, click here.
If you’re an HR or People leader looking to keep your company on track with their goals, click here.
Setting goals seems easy enough, but it can get tricky: it’s easy to overcomplicate things, or to make goals too general or too specific. Think about what happened.
1. Have your goals been hard to keep track of?
You might’ve used one of several popular goal-setting frameworks for your goals. Based on those breakdowns, you might be able to see why your goal got off track. Did something unexpected happen at work? Did you make an assumption about company goals that turned out differently?
For SMART goal-setting: Did something unexpected happen at work? Did you make an assumption about company goals that turned out differently?
For OKRs: When put into practice, do the key results actually lead to the objective? If not, how can you change either the Objective or the Key Results to make the goal more useful?
2. Do your goals not feel relevant?
Are you and your manager (and your company) aligned when it comes to how your goals are working for you? When it comes to work-related goals, we’ve found that ones for alignment, focus, and employee development are typically the most successful. Goals that align with your company’s mission, help you put the focus on the most important things, and help you reach your full potential benefit both you as an individual, and the company at large. Ask yourself what kind of goals they are -- are they process-based? Are they reach goals? What's going to happen to these goals at the end of a cycle? Answering these questions might help you discuss getting back on track with your goals with your manager.
3. Did they slip your mind?
Maybe that’s something you can bring up in your next 1:1. Ideally, your goals should be part of your day-to-day life at work. If they aren’t, maybe you and your manager can collaborate on this next goal cycle.
Before you embark upon your new goal setting quest, consider what you’re going to stop doing. As the Harvard Business Review article articulates, before trying something new, you need to know what didn’t work in the first place.
This might be about unlearning “bad” habits that waste time, or simply streamlining what you already do in order to free up your time (and your mind) for more important things. Think about your productivity: rather than resigning yourself to spending more time at the office to achieve your goals, consider how you can do more with the same amount of time and effort. Assess your current processes: are there any tasks you typically do that can be eliminated, or condensed -- for example, auto-accepting people into a Slack group rather than having to manually approve anyone who joins -- to streamline and save time? Is a teammate or manager being a roadblock, and if so, can you change your current process to improve your work flow?
Once you’ve identified places where you can save time, you can make a plan for achieving your goals.
Now that you’ve done an overhaul on your goals, and you’ve assessed how you can make time for goal achievement, you need to build in some accountability.
Even just writing out the goals will help you be more accountable when following through on your goals. Keeping them in a place where you can see them regularly, whether it’s in a product, online, or on a sticky note on your computer -- or better yet, all three -- will help them in mind every day.
Also, again, you want to talk regularly to your manager about your goals, and how they can support you in achieving them. Sharing your goals publicly can be instrumental in keeping you on track: rather than faltering then simply feeling down on yourself, you have the accountability to, and encouragement from people around you to keep you going.
It’s never too late to re-commit to your goals. Revisit the way you’ve crafted them, and eliminate your biggest time wasters to create space for goal achievement. Then get the people around you on board, and commit to transitioning into doing the work. Before you know it, you’ll be focusing on your new goals.