Using Goal Setting as a Development Tool

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As a leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to guide your direct reports as they set goals for their development. Unfortunately, too often we set either general goals for our people like ‘become a better listener’ or metrics based goals like ‘increase customer service scores to 68%’.

Now, at their face, neither of these goals is a ‘bad’ goal. It’s just that they are not particularly helpful in assisting your direct report in what they need to do differently. Both ‘general’ goals and ‘metrics’ based need to be broken down into more helpful stages. In other words, take the result you desire and ask:
“What behaviors would move this person in the direction of this goal?”
Once you have established the behavior change you would like to see, use effective coaching techniques (see LeaderShift) to create buy-in from the employee on the change that is required. A good time frame to focus on these types of behavior changes for is about 2-3 weeks.

As you consider the behavior change goal you will work on the for the next few weeks, it is helpful to keep in mind the following:

Consider what is happening, and what needs to happen over the next three weeks.
Each time period in a business brings it’s own set of unique challenges. As you look out over the next few weeks, consider what what is already scheduled, and what projects are they already committed to. In addition, what needs to happen in order to move the organization forward?

What skills/ideas have they already been exposed to that could accelerate their progress?
Once you have clarity on what must happen over the next few weeks, the next thing you must do is consider what skills/ideas have they already been exposed to that could accelerate their progress.

Focus on Habits not Tasks
As you consider at what ideas they could apply to accelerate their progress, evaluate the ideas as to whether you have chosen a ‘task’. If so, ask yourself how they could accomplish that task differently utilizing skills/ideas have they already been exposed to. As you know, sometimes we focus on tasks and miss the intent of the task. For example, we can spin through Quality Assurance Coaching, and miss the intent of changing rep’s behaviors.
In many cases, the intent of the task is best accomplished by focusing on establishing certain habits. In our example above, the habit might be making sure that I deliver the feedback to the rep on a timely basis, asking them their thoughts on what they see in the file, and ensuring that I gain their buy-in on what behavior they plan to change.

Elements of a Good Habit Change Goal
1. Daily
Habits are changed by focusing on daily activity. Consider the behavior change you are focused on. How would you break this down into a daily behavior? If you have focused on a behavior you need for a specific meeting, what elements of that behavior might apply in other situations?
2. Proactive
Your goals should be proactive in that they should move you toward a better future. Be careful not to set goals that require someone else to act before you can take action on your goal.
3. Control
Your goal should be something you can do, not something someone else needs to do. If you need a behavior change to be made by another individual, ask yourself: What do I need to do to encourage this pattern of behavior in them?

First you make your habits…. then your habits make you!