January 17th was the annual observance of ‘Ditch Your New Year Resolutions Day’. That’s right—people failing to stick to their New Year resolutions is such a common occurrence these days that it gets its very own day of observance.
In the business world, and HR particularly, leaders and employees enter the new year with a plethora of resolutions, including things from improve employee engagement, to build rewards programs, to achieve higher rates of feedback. All of these resolutions have one common thread: they are high level ideas that you can strive towards, but there’s no measurable way of knowing if you achieved the resolution.
Goals on the other hand…
Goal setting is a different story from resolutions, because when you set goals and you do it right, you have a scale that you can measure your success on. Goals are not high level ideas that you’re trying to reach, they are endpoints that have a clear point of attack. The problem is, many people hear goal setting and think along the same lines of making a resolution, but if you do goal setting right, these two are vastly different things.
I say all this as a very cynical person—someone who has always found things like “goals” and “resolutions” to be a crock of BS. What changed my mind was changing the way I looked at goals, courtesy of this video:
Even at the beginning of the video I rolled my eyes, thinking it was just going to be another “in the clouds” look at why thinking on goals/resolutions is motivating and can help you achieve anything (insert sarcastic tone). But as I continued to watch, the speaker broke down the idea of goal setting into smaller and smaller pieces that started making sense.
Admittedly, the video is about 21 minutes longer than the average person’s attention span. There’s some good insight in there as to how to set goals, but the one of the main things that stuck out to me was the acronym SMART, and how all of your goals should be SMART.
Already you are forced to nix “setting goals” for items like achieving higher rates of feedback. It’s too general of a goal to be specific, it’s too broad to be measurable, and it’s too vague to be attainable. It might be realistic and timely, but that’s less than half of the aspects a good goal should have. Something that does fit into this acronym would be giving each employee feedback at least once a month.
So now that you have a SMART goal, you’re still left with a wide range of how you can achieve that goal. The above video covers this too by approaching goals with a 5-4-3-2-1 system. For every goal you make, you should write down the following:
5 things you need to do to reach your goal.
4 things you need to stop doing to reach your goal.
3 habits you need to form to help you reach your goal.
2 people to hold you accountable for reaching your goal.
1 belief you need to form on the way to reaching your goal.
Let’s take our SMART goal of giving every employee feedback once a month. Here’s how your goal setting would look:
Things you need to do: create set meeting times, give your employees goals to reach that you can offer them feedback on, ask your employees to offer their own take on how they’re performing, know what your employees are working on so you know what to give them feedback on, reading weekly performance management blogs to increase your effectiveness.
Things you need to stop doing: pushing back meetings, focusing only on negatives, being overwhelmed by the idea of giving all employees feedback, waiting until the last minute to get your feedback together.
Habits to form: write down feedback as you have it for you to give during a monthly meeting, keeping a calendar to make sure all your employees are getting looped in, checking in with your employees to make sure they’re looking towards the feedback meeting.
Two people to hold you accountable: your director and your coworker.
One belief to form: giving employees feedback improves your team’s performance.
And now you’ve gone from a broad, unattainable and unmeasurable resolution to a real goal that you can reach and see the success of, with steps to help you along the way. Creating goals that are SMART and follow the 5-4-3-2-1 methodology means you’ll actually see the changes that you want from the resolutions you started with. It’s a process that you can follow for any resolution you want to make, whether it be within work or in your personal life.
So this week, ditch your resolution and don’t feel bad about it. Who needs ’em anyways when you’re making room for real goals in your life that you can reach step by step.
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