Facilitating Achievement through Setting Goals — Together

Missing the mark

Good leaders set good goals: for themselves as well as for their subordinates. But exceptional leaders set good goals with their subordinates, then help them to achieve these goals. How often do we put that into practice?

Several years ago, as a “middle manager,” I met with my supervisor for my annual review. I was told that my leadership style was too “laid back.” His suggested goal for me? “Be proactive.” I asked him for clarification. His response? “Just be more proactive.”

With this direction in mind, I made an effort to use his vague advice by being more proactive with my people. The only problem was that my idea of proactivity and his did not coincide. I was unknowingly aiming at the wrong targets. This was not made clear until a year later. But the specific targets were not defined; instead, I continued to hear “be more proactive.”

Along with the nonspecific direction, he also gave the impression that I was failing in my responsibilities because I couldn’t meet his vaguely described expectations. I was being set up for failure, and I’m not certain that it was intentional.

A good leader should take a cooperative approach to goal-setting for his direct reports; in doing this, he becomes a facilitator. It is helpful to remember the Latin root of facilitate is facilis: to make easier. Specific goals should be suggested, and resources identified and provided that can assist in achieving those goals.

Good goals are well-defined, have a timeline, and should be measurable. Ambiguous goals will lead to poor outcomes. And as leaders, we should ask ourselves regularly: “Am I making it easier for my direct reports to achieve our mutual goals?” If I am standing in their way, then I cease to be a leader.

On target

We are all familiar with “SMART” goals.[1] This sometimes seems trite, but the principles are sound. If your approach is based on sound principles, it has greater potential for success. Call the goals what you want, but SMART goals really are smart. In general, goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

I want to inject a side note here. Inject some positive feedback into your evaluations and reviews. Dale Carnegie reminded us to be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” Even the poorest performance has something praiseworthy in it. Sincere praise can be an effective way to promote improved performance. One of my high school English teachers used to write “Noble Effort” on the essays that didn’t measure up. I have not forgotten that.

Remember, we are leading people. Look for the good and praise it. Support them at every opportunity. Help them to see their value to your organization; help them to see their worth as individuals.

Bullseye

[1] Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review, Volume 70, Issue 11(AMA FORUM), pp. 35-36.

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Overcoming the Shoe Drop Syndrome

I have followed Dan Rockwells’ Leadership Freak Blog for some time, and I have benefited from reading his posts. This one is particularly good. In part because I have an intense dislike for the critique sandwich. The praise always comes across as insincere. And I prefer a good roast beef sandwich to a bologna (baloney) sandwich any day.

Dan’s insights here are profound, and I will change my approach because of it. That is why I share it here with you.

Recall Carnegie’s admonition to be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” The baloney sandwich is neither.

If you enjoy this, check out Dan’s other posts at Leadership Freak. He is at a place where I am striving to be with my blog.

Here’s Dan on giving praise properly:

Shoe drop syndrome: Waiting for the bad news, after receiving the good.

Manipulative leaders use praise as the channel to give the bad news that’s really on their mind. Everyone ignores the good, and waits for the other shoe to drop.

search for the good

Feedback sandwich:

The feedback sandwich is filled with baloney.

You start and end with praise and slip the baloney in between. Go ahead, use praise as a courtesy, when delivering tough news, but don’t expect it to stick.

If the only praise you give is in preparation for bad news, you’re a jerk.

Search for the good. The stink finds you all by itself.

10 ways to look for the good:

  1. Schedule a daily walk about to look only for praiseworthy behaviors. Take 15 minutes every day this week to bring it up and brag it up.
  2. Use language that expresses emotion. I’m so proud to work here when I see ______.
  3. Think about things that are running smoothly. What isn’t broken?
  4. Seize imperfect moments to offer imperfect praise. Don’t wait for the perfect moment.
  5. Compliment small things. If you wait for the big stuff, you wait too long.
  6. Complete this sentence. I respect you for ______.
  7. Acknowledge effort as well as achievement.
  8. When you see behaviors you want more of, complement it right then.
  9. Who gets along, serves, speaks truth to power, or goes the extra mile?
  10. Use virtual channels if your team is spread across the globe.

Bonus: Ask, “What’s working?”

Look for:

  1. Energy.
  2. Reliability.
  3. Creativity.
  4. Loyalty.
  5. Endurance.
  6. Integrity.
  7. Skill.

Contributors:

Pour energy into contributors.

Don’t allow poor performers to consume your time, attention, and energy. Give them a chance. Help them step up. Offer training. But, don’t let compassion or hope be the reason you neglect high performers.

Focus on high performers and people who are growing, if you want great achievement.

How might leaders aggressively search for the good?

Re-posted from: Leadership Freak