Develop a “What’s the Goal?” Mindset
Whenever you’re assigned a new responsibility, task or endeavor, the three most important words you can ask yourself are: “What’s the goal?” And that can be applied to anything and everything you do. When you ask yourself that question, never assume the first answer is the right one. Instead, take the time to define and drill down on the expected outcomes and results until you feel comfortable that you’ve got all the information you need to manage the assignment to a successful outcome.
Here are a few ways to get a goal mindset:
Grasp the difference between your goal and the activity tied to that goal.
Often, when our clients first learn about the MAP Goals and Controls process — setting of measurable goals, and creating the controls and procedures to achieve them — the client’s temptation is to focus on “activities” as if they were goals. For example, an accounting team might think they’re setting a goal by deciding to send out all collection notices for accounts payable by the end of the month. But that’s simply an activity supporting the real goal; i.e., lowering accounts payable by 10 percent. Learning the difference between goals and the activities that support those goals is a first, critical step in driving results.
Frame-up your tasks, assignments and/or projects.
Every time there’s a new project or assignment to tackle, good managers gather their team members and direct reports. Such a manager spends a meeting getting the “lay of the land” and asking a lot of questions: What’s the ultimate goal? What are you trying to accomplish? What will the project look like when it’s done? What are the core activities necessary for its success? What’s the timeline for achievement?
Answering these key questions as a group creates consensus and transparency about what the team is striving for, and how you’re all going to do it. This boosts your odds of successful project management and, consequently, goal achievement.
Set goals for meetings.
Having a meeting without a goal is sort of like telling people to show up for a race that doesn’t have a finish line. It’s a pointless waste of time, resources, and energy. Yet, how many meetings have you sat through, wondering, “Why am I here? I’m wasting my time!” Every meeting should have a clearly defined purpose and a time limit to reach that goal. If you don’t have an ultimate goal for a meeting, you might as well not have the meeting — and just let everyone keep on working.
What prevents you or your team from having that “goal mindset”?