Your goal for 2016? Set fewer goals
Tuesday, January 05, 2016
The season of excesses is behind us — 2016 is here. With the same spirit you are shunning huge dinners and excessive shopping, I offer you this thought: Why not do without goals as well?
Sure, maybe you could see taking the goal-setting down a notch or two in your personal life, but how can you do that at work without the ship just steering into a rocky cliff? After all, you are leading, which means people are following you. Don't you need goals to know where you are going?
Having the end in mind is different than planning every stop along the way. Imagine a road trip where you tell your passengers you are headed from Portland, Maine, to San Diego California. You have decided the route, all of the bathroom breaks, food stops and hotel stayovers.
Everything has been booked to ensure the least expensive rate, and the route has been optimized to get you to your destination in 21 days with a variance of plus or minus one day considered acceptable. You have included some scheduled relaxation time and a few sites to see as well for some planned bonding.
Contrast that trip with one where you say to your passengers: I would like to get to San Diego in three weeks, and here is why I think it is a good idea. Does anyone have any concerns? Questions? How about suggestions or ideas for the trip?
After hearing their thoughts, together you come up with a road trip battle cry ("San Diego or bust!"). And you come up with a theme to remind you and your passengers what is important and should be considered along the journey (sleep, scenery and sun).
Now, think about your team. In the first version of the trip, those who love details, planning and structure will be quite happy. Anyone else will be a bit stressed just looking at the pages and pages of itinerary. And it is unclear whether anyone will be excited about the trip or the destination because you have only focused on how you will do it.
Conversely, the variety of personalities on your team will have the opportunity to contribute to the logistics of the journey in the second version. They will also all understand why they are on the journey in the first place. And based on the collective work coming up with the overall vision and mission, they have not only bought in, but they are also excited and all understand what parameters can and will impact the journey.
Instead of riddling your team with detailed goals, a specific plan on what you will do in 2016 and how it will get done, why not open it up a bit? Talk to them about where you want to be, and get their ideas on how to get there. Encapsulate the collective wisdom into a motto (or battle cry) and incorporate it into the work environment.
Then, find out what is important to the team along the way. When will you know you have pushed too hard? When can you push harder? What are the types of opportunities you do not want to miss? How will you remain open to the things that are really important? Summarize those into your mission or vision (or theme) and incorporate that into your operations.
While this second version requires a more active interest in your team, it is worth the investment. So, if you must set a goal for 2016, try this: Instead of wasting your time cajoling, disciplining and managing your team, aim to lead them instead.
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