I'm leading a new team right now that is serving a client organization we've been working with for many years. Now that the team is assembled, it's time for us to set some new goals for ourselves on how we'll measure success with our client. In the past, I've served the client myself, so I haven't had to communicate much with anyone else except the client.
As I started doing goal setting, I did what I've pretty much always done before – got into a room by myself and planned it all out. Work done. Onto the next thing.
Lots of problems with this approach of course. First of all, it's hard to innovate with new ideas when you are just relying on your own perspective and what's worked before. The far bigger issue though? Will others ever get excited and motivated about moving forward on a goal if they haven't been involved in its creation?
This is a huge issue for leaders (and me, obviously – even though I teach these skills and should know better) because lots of us get caught up in old habits and past organizational paradigms. Many of us have been taught that management is about setting goals and telling people what to do. That's not an ideal model, but it doesn't stop us from falling into old mindsets.
Thankfully one of my mentors had the good sense to catch me going down this path and gently reminded me that it might make sense to involve other people in the goal-setting process. Grateful for the reminder, I'm now moving forward on the plan that I coach leaders on and should have laid out in the first place:
- Appreciate the past: Before deciding what should happen in the future, take some time to consider what's already occurred. One great way to do this is to ask every member of the team to record and share some of their recent, past accomplishments. This has the benefit of both reminding people of their strengths and laying the groundwork for how those strengths may be best utilized again.
- Understand the present: What important initiatives is each team member working on already? What are the biggest opportunities and obstacles up ahead? Asking people to consider current reality helps frame future goals around what is both challenging and realistic going forward.
- Picture the future: Where does each person see their own department or team in 3-5 years? What professional goals do they have in that time frame? I also challenge leaders to have people consider their personal goals as well.
- Identify passions: What gets each member of the team out of bed in the morning? What are they excited about? What do they want to be doing with their time?
Getting clarity on the above won't ensure that you do effective goal setting – there are many more steps after this. However, it will lay the foundation that considers everyone's strengths, resources, and motivations for success. Ideally, a framework of the future starts to emerge that will honor much of what people communicate.
What obstacles have you run into when trying to help others see the future? Share your thoughts with our community in the comments section below.