This is a great time to be addressing this issue. It’s a new year, everyone is focused on the year ahead, and we not only want to get off to a great start, but keep that momentum up throughout the year. Tracking goals and progress is the way to do that.
First, let’s make sure all your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-specific). The more specific we are, the better chance we have of attaining results.
Additionally, we should have an action plan for each goal (what behaviors/actions will we take to achieve this goal)?
Second, once goals and action plans are agreed upon, post them somewhere you can see them often. We recommend posting them in many places so you are constantly looking at them, and reminding yourself of what the focus should be. To help eliminate distractions, look at what you are doing and ask yourself “how does this support my goals?” It’s a good way to realize if what you are working in something that will help you achieve your goals, or something that maybe just feels good right now.
Thirdly, create accountability for yourself. This can be with your manager, peers, friends, or anyone. The more you tell people what you’re setting out to do, the higher chance you have of creating accountability and results for yourself.
Next – track and reward progress. One of the biggest detours people make is forgetting to look at what they’re doing to achieve their goals. We often see the negative: the results we don’t get, the hurdles, the lack of progress. However, looking at our progress helps us to determine: are we on the right path? Do we need to make adjustments? Where are we making progress?
Celebrate successes!! This doesn’t happen enough. We tend to look at what’s not working, sometimes more than what is. Successes should be celebrated often. People feed off energy – positive energy will help bring everyone up, negative energy brings people down. As a manager, you can have a plan every week to look for successes/wins and celebrate and share what’s working. That doesn’t mean we don’t pay attention to what’s not, but we often have to look for the successes more than the challenges.
Lastly – debrief often. Goals are our guide, actions are our steps and debriefing is our chance to continually look at what’s working, what’s not, and what shifts we choose to make. Every day/every week, take a few minutes to look at what you’re doing, successes, challenges, and write down your plan for the following day/week.
For your employees, make sure you know their goals, and action plans. Set up a regular coaching conversation to discuss goals, progress, challenges, etc. Make these conversations a priority – don’t let them be taken over by catch-up conversations, issues, etc. Have an agenda for this conversation that focuses on goals, results, actions, successes and challenges. The more regularly you keep to these conversations, your actions demonstrate the priority of goals and progress and eliminate surprises about performance.