Next Monday marks an unusual occurrence: the start of a new week, a new month, and a new year. Talk about a clean slate all around! The start of a new year is often a time to set goals and make plans. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions often crash and burn by February, leaving many defeated and disappointed. Setting professional goals that are attainable and realistic, both short and long-term, will help ensure that you are continuously working on some aspect of your career growth.
Heidi currently works as a personal banker at a local credit union. Her long-term career objective is to eventually reach an SVP (Senior Vice President) level within the next 5 years. This long-term career goal serves as a great foundation to set smaller, short-term objectives, with the next step of her career planning being determining what she needs to do to achieve this long-term goal. These more immediate objectives can include activities and various actions to participate in to reach the ultimate end result.
For example, a short-term goal Heidi can set would be determining what education is needed for that SVP position. Once she verifies those requirements, she can register for and participate in online certification courses, webinars, and other e-learning opportunities. Another option is to enroll in college courses or other training courses that are required/recommended for that job.
Talking with other individuals who currently hold, or have held, this position and developing realistic activities to participate in to help further develop the skills necessary for this position is another great sub-goal. Asking for small, manageable projects to gain skills and experience and volunteering to assist with other projects are additional short-term objectives she can set for herself to ensure that she is always working towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
Once short and long-term career goals are set and steps to achieve these goals have been defined and developed, make sure the plan is consistently reviewed and modified as necessary to ensure achievability. Adjust time frames, set rewards for achieving even the smallest of goals, and share the plan with others to get feedback and support.
New Year’s resolutions do not have to be daunting. Setting realistic and attainable career goals to work on throughout the year will help encourage professional growth and satisfaction.
Whether formal or informal, many employees are given a performance evaluation on an annual basis. Organizations are rapidly stepping away from the numerical, data-driven style of reviews (ranking the employee on some range indicating levels of performance) and instead are focusing on professional development and growth and setting personal goals that are mutually beneficial to both the employee and the organization.
While this more informal approach can occur at either a set time each year, or on an as-needed basis, at the end of the day the responsibility of accomplishing goals and objectives lies solely in the hands of the employee.
Halfway through your annual review period, take the time to conduct a personal, mid-year review to determine where you’re at in meeting any goals you and your supervisor have set and any modifications you may need to make to ensure success.
- Reflect back on the past six months and identify accomplishments and achievements. What did you do to that aided in your successes, and how can you implement that into meeting current and future goals?
- Identify those areas in which you’ve struggled. Reevaluate your objectives and make any necessary changes to your routines to ensure that you give yourself adequate time and resources to bounce back.
- Have your goals and objectives changed in the past six months? Do you have a new direction and focus, requiring a need to set new goals?
- After reviewing and modifying your goals, as necessary, prioritize them.
The personal, mid-year review is meant to be just that, personal. You can decide whether or not you wish to share this evaluation of your goals with your supervisor, but ultimately, the purpose is to give yourself a kickstart to progress positively into the second half of the year. A reflection of your professional (and personal, should they overlap) goals to determine how far you’ve come in recent months, where you’re at now, and what you need to do to successfully move forward.
It’s Thursday morning and the COO just sent you an email requesting a detailed analysis of all customers’ accounts. A project that will take a couple of days and of course she needs it by Friday afternoon. To make it worse, you have a major employee presentation on the new company products tomorrow morning and you still have to prepare the slideshow and talking points.
While this scenario might not happen often, it demonstrates a conflict of goals where you almost have to choose one over the other. The COO has a reason for needing the detailed analysis by Friday afternoon even if you don’t know why and you also need to inform the employees on the new product lines in the morning. How do we manage the conflict?
First things first, determine the urgency of each goal. Check in with the COO regarding the deadline and possibly the scope of the analysis she needs. Often the requestor doesn’t realize you have a conflict and can change the deadline which gives you some breathing room. Additionally, you can also verify the scope of the project to ensure there isn’t any miss-understandings. The latter might help you cut down on the actual project time if it isn’t as time consuming as you thought. Additionally, you can review the prior goal (in the scenario demonstrate a new product line) and see if you can delegate most of the preparation work to someone else or if that deadline can be moved.
If you have appropriate staff or coworkers for delegation, now is the time start reviewing who can do with. Additionally, you should know your resources that can help accomplish both goals. In the scenario, you might be able to task a lot of the analysis onto another employee with you finalizing the report after the employee presentation. Or vice-versa you can delegate the task of preparing the other project to an employee with you finalizing the project near the end.
Goals that you have a long ramp time to accomplish, you can start planning your steps to each goal ensuring that they logistics don’t compete with each other. Unless in the event the accomplishment of one goal decimates the other goal. In the latter event, you need to evaluate the importance of each goal and determine which one is the most important. With the scenario above you may have to determine which project is more important or ask the COO for her input on which one should be accomplished.
Competing goals can often discourage a good employee and manager, however with careful planning and forward thinking you can start planning accordingly.
Last week we discussed the common tradition of setting goals and resolutions at the start of the new year. In the workplace, establishing regular objectives is a necessary part of accomplishing all we have to do (both in the short and long-term), but there are ways to effectively set those goals to ensure you are held accountable and stay on track to reach those end goals.
Simply setting a goal isn’t always the best way to achieve that end result. You have to create a road map of sorts, detailing how you are going to get from point A to point B. This can be done through setting additional objectives (consider these mini or sub goals) and key results (what you’re specifically going to do to make sure those objectives happen) needed to accomplish your goal.
For example, say your overall goal is to have a more organized office at work. How are you going to get there? What steps do you need to take to ensure that this goal is achieved in the most efficient way possible? To illustrate this method of goal setting more clearly:
Goal: To have a more organized office at work.
Objective: Declutter and purge excess “stuff” out of and on top of the desk.
Key Results: Set aside an afternoon once a month/every other month to clean out desk drawers of excess accumulation, clean and dust surface areas, and remove anything not used on a daily basis from the desktop (e.g., file, store, trash, or recycle).
Objective: Eliminate piles of excess paperwork.
Key Results: Take 30 minutes a week (or more depending on the amount of paperwork accumulated) to scan and shred paperwork that can be electronically stored and archived. File paperwork that requires hard copies to be saved.
By establishing these steps to accomplish your overall goal, you are more clearly defining what you need to do which keeps all your ducks in a row and makes it easier to get to the finish line. Consider implementing this new take on the goal setting process into your own routines, or as part of the performance review process for your employees.
Last week, we discussed the importance of resolutions in our professional lives and how setting goals, objectives, and good workplace habits throughout the year can help ensure productivity and can help improve your professional image and reputation. (more…)