Setting performance goals is all about where I or my team or organization would like to be. The goals should be strong enough to stretch us but not so strong that we can't reach them; and they shouldn't be so weak that it takes little effort to achieve them. Also, be wary about viewing the future from the present as the present may discourage us from even thinking about where we would like to be. For instance, if we say we want to go to France but think about what's on our desk - we have bills to pay, the mortgage is due, the car needs fixing, the savings account has nothing in it - we just might be so overwhelmed that we can't even think about that right now. This may be why so many people don't set goals - they are drowning in today's reality.
The same is true in the workplace. Perhaps we don't set goals because we are constantly fighting today's fires and consequently we think we have little time to plan for the long term. When we do this we get mired in the present and block ourselves from reaching our full potential. Set the goal first, then develop the strategies to get from here to there.
Here is the conundrum: we can only progress towards the end in the present - in the "now". So even though we may be overwhelmed by the present we still must work towards the goal in the present.
How do you do this?
At work, we usually set performance goals or objectives along with our coach, leader or manager. Outside of work we set Personal goals with our spouse and family, or if single for oneself. Work goals relate to what we do on the job, with our customers and what we need to learn to keep relevant. Personal goals relate to what we value regarding our family, finances, community, spiritual well being, physical self, learning and career.
Those that set goals achieve more at work and in life, then those that don't.
Author: Richard Fontanie, MSW, FCMC, Up-dated from the Archives Fontanie Learning Solutions. "Closing the Gap Between Here and There."
When our youngest daughter, Leanne, was about 6 years old, we were just beginning to start our evening meal, when she posed this question to me: “Dad, what do you do all day?” I wondered if this was prompted by a "show and tell" project at her school and so I asked “is this something you need for school?” “No,” she replied, “I’m just interested.” Wow, my daughter is interested in what I do all day! Then I sat back and wondered how am I going to explain to our six-year-old what a management consultant, business coach and trainer does.
So, I began, “Well, Honey, I work with people who run businesses and help them plan and get organized so that they can run their businesses better.” That seemed to satisfy her for the moment and she proceeded to fill up her plate. I could see she was thinking about what I said and I wondered whether my explanation made any sense to her. I didn't have to wait too long. She continued her cross examination.
Do you go to a lot of meetings?” This was an easier question to answer, because it was a yes or no answer. “Yes,” I replied. Then came a question that needed a lot more explanation, “what do you do at your meetings?” Well now I was in my element, because this was an area where managers wasted a lot of time and our firm helped them run their meetings more efficiently. I thought maybe if I explain this right my young daughter would learn something important about how to run a meeting – even at her age. So, I explained:
"Meetings have agendas. An agenda identifies what the people in the meeting need to discuss. We let those who attend meetings know how long it should take to cover each agenda item. We then talk about each item and identify what needs to be done about it, who is going to carry it out, and when we expect it to be done."
I felt good about that answer. But Leanne wasn't finished yet: “Who attends these meetings?” She asked “Only those who need to be there; if people attend and they don’t need to be there, then they are wasting their time,” I replied. “Are you usually late for meetings?” she quizzed. “Oh no,” came my quick reply, “that’s one of the things we teach people. It's everyone’s responsibility to be on time. If I’m late and people are waiting for me I’m wasting their time, and besides it’s pretty rude because when you come into a meeting late you disrupt others."
Then, my little girl of six looked me straight in the eye, and asked: “Why are you usually late for our dinner meetings?” Dumbfounded, I looked at her mother. “I didn't put her up to this,” she said with a smile (and probably thinking "way to go girl!"). I looked at her older sister and she quickly denied any involvement, “it wasn't me.”
So, my six year old put it directly to the Management Consultant - who prided himself on helping others do the right thing and to clearly understand their priorities. In essence she said to me: “Do you have your priorities straight, Dad? Don’t you know that we are just as important, even more important than those business meetings you attend. At least, you can do is be on-time for our meetings too.”
A lesson well learned. And, something I carry with me to this day.
Questions to Answer: Are your priorities in the right place? Do you view family gatherings as important events? Do you attend them on time? Or, do you think your business is more important than your family? Remember children spell “love,” as “time.” To improve your meeting outcomes consider this program.
Author: Richard Fontanie MSW, FCMC, from the Fontanie Learning Solutions Archives.
It is not the decision you make that is important, it is the judgement about the decision you made that is important. That judgement is reflected in the actions you take. And, the actions you take determine whether your decision is based on sound or poor judgement.
Business and public policy is sometimes murky business. Often decision makers live in the gray zone, or as I like to call it the “amorphous marshmallow zone.” Things are not always as clear as they would like them to be, and this for many reasons. They try to filter out the best alternatives to a difficult situation and at some point after weighing the pros and cons they make a decision. This is where judgement comes in.
What is judgement anyway? Judgement could be described as the ability to make “a decision or forming an opinion, objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense and discretion.” (Dictionary.com). We may have heard the sage dictum that “good judgement comes from experience and that experience comes from the exercise of bad judgement.” Perhaps in time we become wise decision-makers coupled with good judgement.
Leaders are assessed not by the decisions they make, but by the judgements they make regarding the choices surrounding the decision. In matters of public policy they are buffered with conflicting political and public opinion. It is not easy to steer a steady course when leaders are caught in a vortex of conflicting opinions. The same is true when business leaders are caught on the horns of a dilemma as they face difficult ethical issues or critical decisions about opposing strategies and tactics. In cases like these emotions usually run high and leaders are asked to make almost King Solomon type decisions. It is in these emotionally charged situations where leaders need to strip away the emotion and make a decision based on their best judgement.
Judgement then has an emotional quality to it. Making a judgement requires a certain amount of emotional restraint or emotional intelligence as Peter NG Kok Song once said. The more we can detach ourselves emotionally from the decision the more we can look at it objectively. The more emotion we have invested in it, the more difficult it is to divest ourselves from our emotions.
How do we get out of this conundrum? I think there are two approaches and they could easily be viewed as two sides of the same coin.
The first approach suggests we take time out and emotionally detach ourselves from the situation through meditation. This sounds like a contradiction, but meditation allows us to free our mind from distracting thoughts and at the same time gives us room to think more clearly. By freeing the mind of emotional turmoil we give it space to think more clearly. By thinking more clearly we have a greater chance of making better choices.
The second approach suggests we clarify the principles that impinge on the decision and then we make the decision based on those principles. This requires leadership based on values that reflect a commitment to service and the common good for the public, customers and employees. Value based leadership reflecting common principles allow us to make better choices outside of the realm of ideology and the pressures of strong egos, including our own.
Meditating is a solitary process whereas arriving at common principles is an engaging process. Through meditation we clarify our own thinking. Through engaging others, we arrive at common principles for the higher good. That is why I suggest the two approaches are two sides of the same coin. Both are often required to make a sound judgement call when confronted with difficult and murky decisions. It is not just heads or tails by the flip of the coin.
I find poor judgement often occurs when people make quick decisions based on emotion and impulse. I have witnessed this in my own behaviour and in working with others in business and public service. We refer to this as a “knee jerk reaction” to an emotionally charged situation, or trying to find an “easy way out” when much more consideration and circumspection is required. Take the time to make the best judgement call not the most expedient and let your actions reflect sound judgement.
You're going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it's always their actions you should judge them by. It's actions, not words, that matter. ― Nicholas Sparks, The Rescue
Question: What do you do when you are faced with difficult choices?
Richard Fontanie, MSW. FCMC, From the FontanieLearningSolutions Archives..