Jim's Blog

Helping Leaders Set Impactful Goals

February 2017

Last month, I wrote about goal setting and achievement and, by now, you’ve seen many other articles and reports on related topics:

  • The need to align individual, team, and unit performance
  • The need for “line of sight” between managerial performance and organizational success
  • The continued lack of communication and transparency

Yet for each of these, the core requirement circles back to the need for impactful goals. And, that’s where people struggle. We often hear poor substitutes for goals: Improve profitability…Increase sales... Reduce waste...

Those are good for a conversation about ‘what keeps me up at night,’ but they don’t really help employees take appropriate action. They leave us waiting and wanting for more.

Effective goals are a must for ensuring everyone works in the same direction. But sometimes it’s difficult to get the necessary level of clarity. And, it’s even more difficult to tell a supervisor that their goals are lacking in some way.

If done incorrectly, it can appear as if you are asking them to justify a request, or are somehow questioning their judgment. Neither is likely to improve your relationship or your credibility.

On the other hand, a leader may have a goal in mind, but hasn’t yet thought through the details.

Those are prime opportunities to help them clarify their goals and then help get them documented.

If you take these opportunities, make every effort to keep the leader focused on desired outcomes rather than desired solutions or behaviors. The latter are important, but they come well after the goal has been established.

Beyond OPS' goal writing algorithm, our Organizational Performance System (OPS) provides some guided conversation tips for talking with leaders and project sponsors about goal setting. You can learn more by chatting with our team at support@ops1.com.


About Jim Hill

Jim is the founder and CEO of Organizational Performance Systems.

Previously, Jim was a Marine Corps officer and an executive with Sun Microsystems. He is a past president of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI).

He holds degrees from The Ohio State University, Webster University, and Averett College, and he received his doctorate in human and organizational performance from the University of Southern California.

His book, Giving Away Power, was published in 2013.

He is the 2016 recipient of ISPI’s Distinguished Service Award.

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