Being Told By At&T That My Phone Cannot Be Unlocked Setting Up Goal Posts: Seven Tips For Creating A Goal-Oriented Culture

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Setting Up Goal Posts: Seven Tips For Creating A Goal-Oriented Culture

A KEY Group survey finds that nearly half of all employees say they have no set performance goals. CEO Joanne G. Sujansky, PhD, CSP, says changing that can turn your company around–and she offers some suggestions to get you started.

Pittsburgh, PA — Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat said it best: When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Do your employees know where they are going? It’s a good question to ponder as the next quarter approaches. You may assume your people are working toward goals that advance your corporate vision. But blind assumptions are rarely correct. Joanne G. Sujansky, CEO of KEYGroup, says if goal-setting is not a priority, your employees likely view your company as “wonderland”–as in “Wonder what we should be doing next?”

This is not a mere suspicion on Sujansky’s part. A recent survey commissioned by KEYGroup found that almost half of the respondents aren’t working toward clear-cut goals. And it’s not that they don’t want to–it’s that leaders aren’t asking them to.

“Too many companies are dropping the ball in regard to helping their employees set and work toward well-defined goals,” she notes. “And when employees don’t have crystal clear goals to work toward, they’re going to waste time and resources. They’re going to be inefficient. Becoming goal-oriented is one of the best things you can do for your company. It shows up in your financials and in your overall culture–and, of course, the two are inextricably linked.”

The current Internet-based survey–conducted by MMc Marketing Research and Consulting–included questions regarding disconnect between management and workers, frequency of performance feedback, and amount of unnecessary stress on the job, among others.

The 1,727 men and women who took the survey ranged in age from 18 to 64, had varying levels of education, and lived all over the United States. While they work in numerous occupations, the majority of respondents classified themselves as “Middle Management,” “Office & Administrative,” and “Professional.”

In evaluating the statement “My company has given me clearly defined goals for my job,” 47 percent of participants either disagreed or were neutral.

So if you suspect your employees would agree with the aforementioned survey respondents, what can you do about it? How can you set up “goal posts” in your own company? Sujansky offers the following tips:

Share the “big picture” with employees. You must run a completely transparent operation. Sujansky–who constantly urges clients to evolve into what she calls a Vibrant Entrepreneurial Organization, or VEO–cannot stress this point enough. “In a VEO, employees have a sense of ownership,” she says. “They know beyond the shadow of a doubt what your company stands for and where it’s going. I mean, if they don’t know the big picture, how can they own it? Besides, when employees have a clear picture of your mission and vision, the goals you help them set will make sense to them. They’ll be more likely to buy into and achieve those goals.”

Work with employees to set challenging, yet attainable goals. That’s right, work with them. Don’t impose goals on your employees. Remember, you’re looking for buy-in. “Sit down with employees and hammer out goals together,” Sujansky suggests. “Make it a priority. I think this is one of those areas in which employers think their people somehow ‘know’ what they’re supposed to be doing, perhaps by osmosis. Never assume that. Clear and frequent communication with their leaders is as vital to your employees’ performance as, say, a phone and a computer.”

Give them a real voice in the company’s future. Don’t just let employees set their own goals. Let them have real input into the company’s future. “No matter how often you tell your employees ‘this is your company, too,’ if they have no real say-so, it’s clearly just lip service,” says Sujansky. “Collaborate with them. Solicit their ideas and contributions. More to the point, actually take their advice and run with it. If you don’t trust your employees enough to help shape your company’s future, why did you hire them in the first place?”

Make sure their work is meaningful. No one likes busywork or routine, mind-numbing tasks. Give your employees challenging assignments and goals that stimulate their minds and that have a real impact on your organization. “If you sense that an employee is just going through the motions, take him to lunch and ask, ‘What would challenge you?'” suggests Sujansky. “Ask him to come up with a new product or service or process for your company and then let him be in charge of the project. It’s amazing how few leaders really do this–but it’s a tremendously empowering and inspiring gesture.”

Tell your employees it’s okay to take risks–in fact, it’s expected. A big part of having a VEO involves the R-word. Risk. Without it there can be no significant gain. This is the real reason you need to keep the “big picture” in front of employees at all times–it helps them take calculated risks aimed at advancing not only their own goals but also your corporate vision. “When people are free to take risks, they are likely to explore multiple possibilities and find unexpected solutions,” says Sujansky. “They will own these solutions and hold themselves accountable. To inspire risk-taking in your employees, take risks yourself. In this way you model the creative spirit you want them to embrace.”

Put systems in place for measuring productivity. In the business world the bottom line is, of course, the bottom line. The whole point of goal setting is to help employees become more productive. That’s why you must be sure not to confuse activity with progress. Put systems in place for measuring productivity and live by them. “Remember this mantra: what gets measured gets done,” advises Sujansky. “Create policies that ensure that the ‘urgent’ doesn’t take precedence over the ‘important,’ and do everything you can to eliminate redundancies and busywork.”

Give feedback, both formal and “real time.” Establish ongoing evaluative processes so people can get feedback on how well they’re meeting their goals. But don’t limit feedback to formal evaluations. Give it on the spot. Yes, you should tell people in “real time” what they’re doing wrong so they can correct it, but it’s even more important to tell them what they’re doing right . “That’s spontaneous coaching and it’s one of the most critical elements of an entrepreneurial culture,” Sujansky says. “It’s the pathway to productivity. This kind of feedback refines the processes by which they meet their goals today, and paves the way for them to meet ever-more-ambitious goals in the future.”

If this list seems daunting, well, that’s understandable. Creating a goal-oriented workplace is tantamount to transforming your corporate culture. Very few companies can go it alone.

“Your best thinking got you to where you are now,” says Sujansky. “Sometimes bringing in an outside source to raise your level of self-awareness is the solution. Boosting productivity and changing your culture will take some effort. It will shake up the status quo. But while change is challenging, it’s also inspiring and energizing. It’s often the best thing that can happen to your employees and your entire organization.”

# # #

Joanne G. Sujansky, PhD, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional)

For over twenty-five years Joanne G. Sujansky, PhD, CSP, has been helping leaders to increase business growth and profitability by creating and sustaining what she calls a Vibrant Entrepreneurial Organization. Her expertise, insight, wisdom, humor, and practical solutions have made Joanne a highly sought-after speaker for keynote addresses, seminars, conferences, and workshops. She has brought fresh concepts and effective techniques to executives and audiences in over thirty countries around the globe. Client favorites include the following topics:

Keys to Creating the VEO

The One & Only Thing Competitors Can’t Steal

Culture: Your New Competitive Advantage

Among the organizations that have called upon Joanne to deliver speeches, develop custom presentations, and provide consulting services are: GlaxoSmithKline, International Federation of Training and Development Organizations, PPG Industries, Inc., U.S. Steel Corporation, PA Recreation & Park Society, Inc., American Express-Sweden, AT&T, Meeting Professionals International, U.S. Postal Service, IBM, Society for Automotive Engineers International, T. Rowe Price, Mayo Clinic, and Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche.

Joanne has authored numerous articles and books on leadership, change and retention, including:

The Power of Partnering: Vision, Commitment, and Action

The Keys to Putting Change in Your Pocket: Tips for Making Change Work for You

The Keys to Conquering Change: 100 Tales of Success

The Keys to Mastering Leadership: 101 Practical Tips

The Keys to Motivating & Retaining Talent

The Keys to Unlocking Your Potential

Activities to Unlock Leadership Potential

Joanne, who founded KEYGroup, is an award-winning entrepreneur. Earlier in her career, she held management- and director-level positions across several different industries. She is past national president of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), and is a recipient of its highest honor, the Gordon M. Bliss Award. An active member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), she has received its highest earned designation, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP).

Her energy and sense of purpose translate into winning presentations that audiences applaud. Packed with plenty of take-home value and on-the-job applicability, you can count on Joanne’s presentations to provide you with the keys to unlock the leader within you, your team, and your organization.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.

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