It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (or is it?)

799 words4 min readCategories: Leadership Development

The holiday season is upon us, bringing with it not only the joy of festivities but also the sometimes daunting task of setting goals for the upcoming year. As we navigate through this festive chaos, let’s take a moment to reflect on the often-misunderstood art of goal setting in the professional realm.

What are Your Pet Peeves about Goal Setting?

Over my 30+ year career, I participated in various forms of goal setting and strategic planning activities. I dreaded it. I’m more of a heads-down, get-things-done kind of girl. Some of my colleagues seemed to enjoy the exercise and I knew there was supposed to be a purpose and value in the process. But I rarely saw it play out that way.

Here are a few of my pet peeves or said in a nicer way – some common pitfalls I have witnessed. There are others and I invite you to add to the list.

Pet Peeve #1: Unrealistic Goals

Most of us can’t predict what will happen or need to happen in five or ten years. In this time of exponential disruption, two years is often a stretch. The planning process needs a tighter timespan.

It’s fine to have big, bold aspirations and those have their place in an organization. But aspirations and goals are not the same thing. A goal should be achievable in the short term (as in the next quarter).

The further a goal is away from the current state and the longer the time frame to achieve it, the least likely it is to be effective.

Pet Peeve #2: Complicated Goals

Have you ever taken part in a planning exercise that soon overwhelmed the organization and became the priority, instead of serving the intended purpose of focusing the teams on the important work needed to achieve the goals?

I’ve seen dashboards, whiteboards, slide decks, posters, and other artifacts packed full of hundreds of goals that attempt to correlate and cascade across an entire organization. The purpose is noble, yet it often leaves employees confused. If everything matters, then nothing matters.

It is important to measure success. But that does not mean that new databases, dashboards, analytics, and processes need to be invented to track progress. Chances are there is an existing process and information that is good enough to get started on the measurement of a goal. This is one of those times when keeping it simple is the best way to proceed.

If an organization is spending too much time creating complex systems to track and measure goals it’s likely to lose focus on the real work needed to achieve success.

Pet Peeve #3: Rigid Goals

Rapid technology advances, shifts in talent and skillsets, a volatile economy, geopolitical tensions, and other factors are disrupting many industries and organizations. It is imperative to build teams that are flexible and resilient. The same approach applies to goal setting.

Locking in on a goal and insisting on a certain outcome without regard for changing conditions will not be effective. Organizations must continue to digest new information and adjust along the way. There is often a reluctance to acknowledge that a goal should no longer be pursued, and that time and energy could be better spent on a different area of focus.

Sometimes we must admit that a particular goal was the wrong one, or at the wrong time, and that new knowledge and understanding make it irrelevant.

A Simpler Way

The purpose behind setting goals is to provide clarity to employees on what matters most in the short term.

One of the most important roles of a leader is to remove the fuzziness for employees about what success looks like – right now, not in ten years.

At Foreword, we offer a simple approach to managing and measuring work to drive results in the short term. Life and business are complicated enough without overthinking the obvious.

We offer workshops on goal setting to help leaders avoid the common pitfalls and to show them a simple, effective way to focus their teams on what needs to be achieved in the next 90 days.

When leaders learn how to provide this type of clarity for their teams, it results in increased motivation, clear accountability, improved engagement, a sense of accomplishment, and continuous improvement.

Happy Holidays and Happy Goal Setting

As you balance the activities of the holiday season and the inevitable goal-setting discussions that come with the new year, remember that simplifying the process can lead to remarkable results. If you’re interested in learning more about our approach at Foreword, please contact me at cathy.tompkins@foreword.consulting.

Don’t forget to share your own goal-setting pet peeves in the comments — it is a great way to help others avoid the same mistakes. Wishing you happy holidays and stress-free goal setting! 🎄✨

Cathy Tompkins

Author • Executive Leadership Consultant

I guide organizations through periods of substantial change and help my clients find impactful, creative solutions that position them for success. As a collaborative and transformational C-suite level executive with with more than 30 years of experience inside Fortune 500 companies, I know how to integrate strategy, technology, and culture to achieve results.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (or is it?)

799 words4 min readCategories: Leadership Development

The holiday season is upon us, bringing with it not only the joy of festivities but also the sometimes daunting task of setting goals for the upcoming year. As we navigate through this festive chaos, let’s take a moment to reflect on the often-misunderstood art of goal setting in the professional realm.

What are Your Pet Peeves about Goal Setting?

Over my 30+ year career, I participated in various forms of goal setting and strategic planning activities. I dreaded it. I’m more of a heads-down, get-things-done kind of girl. Some of my colleagues seemed to enjoy the exercise and I knew there was supposed to be a purpose and value in the process. But I rarely saw it play out that way.

Here are a few of my pet peeves or said in a nicer way – some common pitfalls I have witnessed. There are others and I invite you to add to the list.

Pet Peeve #1: Unrealistic Goals

Most of us can’t predict what will happen or need to happen in five or ten years. In this time of exponential disruption, two years is often a stretch. The planning process needs a tighter timespan.

It’s fine to have big, bold aspirations and those have their place in an organization. But aspirations and goals are not the same thing. A goal should be achievable in the short term (as in the next quarter).

The further a goal is away from the current state and the longer the time frame to achieve it, the least likely it is to be effective.

Pet Peeve #2: Complicated Goals

Have you ever taken part in a planning exercise that soon overwhelmed the organization and became the priority, instead of serving the intended purpose of focusing the teams on the important work needed to achieve the goals?

I’ve seen dashboards, whiteboards, slide decks, posters, and other artifacts packed full of hundreds of goals that attempt to correlate and cascade across an entire organization. The purpose is noble, yet it often leaves employees confused. If everything matters, then nothing matters.

It is important to measure success. But that does not mean that new databases, dashboards, analytics, and processes need to be invented to track progress. Chances are there is an existing process and information that is good enough to get started on the measurement of a goal. This is one of those times when keeping it simple is the best way to proceed.

If an organization is spending too much time creating complex systems to track and measure goals it’s likely to lose focus on the real work needed to achieve success.

Pet Peeve #3: Rigid Goals

Rapid technology advances, shifts in talent and skillsets, a volatile economy, geopolitical tensions, and other factors are disrupting many industries and organizations. It is imperative to build teams that are flexible and resilient. The same approach applies to goal setting.

Locking in on a goal and insisting on a certain outcome without regard for changing conditions will not be effective. Organizations must continue to digest new information and adjust along the way. There is often a reluctance to acknowledge that a goal should no longer be pursued, and that time and energy could be better spent on a different area of focus.

Sometimes we must admit that a particular goal was the wrong one, or at the wrong time, and that new knowledge and understanding make it irrelevant.

A Simpler Way

The purpose behind setting goals is to provide clarity to employees on what matters most in the short term.

One of the most important roles of a leader is to remove the fuzziness for employees about what success looks like – right now, not in ten years.

At Foreword, we offer a simple approach to managing and measuring work to drive results in the short term. Life and business are complicated enough without overthinking the obvious.

We offer workshops on goal setting to help leaders avoid the common pitfalls and to show them a simple, effective way to focus their teams on what needs to be achieved in the next 90 days.

When leaders learn how to provide this type of clarity for their teams, it results in increased motivation, clear accountability, improved engagement, a sense of accomplishment, and continuous improvement.

Happy Holidays and Happy Goal Setting

As you balance the activities of the holiday season and the inevitable goal-setting discussions that come with the new year, remember that simplifying the process can lead to remarkable results. If you’re interested in learning more about our approach at Foreword, please contact me at cathy.tompkins@foreword.consulting.

Don’t forget to share your own goal-setting pet peeves in the comments — it is a great way to help others avoid the same mistakes. Wishing you happy holidays and stress-free goal setting! 🎄✨

Cathy Tompkins

Author • Executive Leadership Consultant

I guide organizations through periods of substantial change and help my clients find impactful, creative solutions that position them for success. As a collaborative and transformational C-suite level executive with with more than 30 years of experience inside Fortune 500 companies, I know how to integrate strategy, technology, and culture to achieve results.

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