Whether you’re aware of it or not, most of your waking hours are filled up with tasks — both big and small ones. These tasks can be anything: from driving to work every morning, to fixing yourself a healthy meal or reviewing a document for work. No matter the type of job you’re performing, it’s important to always keep in mind that behind each task stands a goal that you’re working towards achieving.
When set up correctly, goals are powerful motivators that encourage us to be better versions of ourselves. In fact, the goal is an optimistic idea of the future or desired result that will (hopefully) occur because of specific actions taken to achieve it. In other words, your goals are the purpose behind the actions that you take. For example, the goal that motivates you to meticulously review a document is to get that promotion, while your goal for preparing a home-cooked meal is to live more healthily.
We set up different goals to help us better manage almost every aspect of our lives.
In the corporate world, goals act as yardsticks with which we can measure our performance. When we reach a goal that we’ve set out to achieve, we are considered successful. If we don’t, we’ve failed. OKRs and KPIs are both professional expressions used in the corporate world to measure goal achievement.
Goals are often used as a representation of shared expectations between the organization, its managers and employees; they paint a clear, vivid picture of success that is shared by all. Additionally, work goals drive personal accountability by tying an individual’s efforts directly to the outcome of a given project.
Regardless of whether you’re setting up goals in collaboration with your managers or by yourself, for your own professional development, there’s no argument regarding the inseparable linkage between goal setting and optimal workplace performance. Setting challenging, non-generic goals helps trigger new behaviors, align focus and sustain momentum.
- Goals motivate you to act. They represent clear end-goals that encourage you to take specific actions to achieve them.
- Goals give you staying power. By looking back at what you’ve already achieved, you can find the strength to fight on until you reach your destination.
- Goals help you focus on priorities. Positive feedback on progress helps to align focus towards decisions and behaviors that support goal attainment.
- Goals build confidence. People who consistently reach their goals develop self-efficacy in their ability to reach any goal they set out to achieve.
Unfortunately, it’s much more difficult to keep professional goals than personal ones. The reason being that there are many factors beyond your control that impact your ability to reach them. If your team isn’t up to par, or if your manager drops the ball, there’s no way you’ll reach your goals.
Perhaps more importantly, if your work goals aren’t aligned with the goals and the strategic direction of your company, your efforts are doomed to fail from the get-go.
Here are 4 key actions to take to ensure that your professional goals and your organization’s goals are fully aligned:
- Make sure you and your team have a clear understanding of your company’s goals and strategy. A company that doesn’t clearly communicate its goals will find it difficult to achieve them. Employees are faced with countless decisions every day, and often have to make them on their own, without direction from superiors. Take the time to ensure that you and your team have a clear understanding of the company’s direction, goals and priorities, and that the work you do supports them. This will improve the chances that all of your hard-work won’t go to waste.
- Set your goals within the framework of your company’s goals. It’s not about how many hours you work, it’s about the impact your efforts have on the company’s goals. Take the time to establish clear, measurable goals that are aligned directly with the company’s vision.
- Track goals against a measurable, predefined baseline. Define a baseline for each of your goals — without a standard to measure your progress against, metrics are meaningless. Make sure that you see your baseline as a real challenge, something that will inspire you to go the extra mile to achieve excellence.
- Motivate by mentoring, not incentivizing. Offering your team incentives for goal completion will only provide short-term motivation that ends when you reach your goal. To achieve real, long-lasting behavior change show each team member how their effort helped the company achieve important milestones and goals.
Planview AdaptiveWork Go gives you a simple way to establish clear goals for you and your team. Set up a workspace to represent a shared goal — like the completion of a project. Assign tasks and customize stages that act as individual goals for each team member.