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 process/activity that’s tied to the goal. Often when our clients first learn about the MAP Goals and Controls process — the setting of measurable goals and putting the controls and procedures in place to achieve them — the temptation is to focus on activities as goals. For example, the accounting team might think they’re setting a goal when it decides to send out all collection notices for accounts payable by the end of the month. But that in and of itself is simply an activity that supports some ultimate goal, i.e., lowering accounts payable by 10 percent. Learning the difference between real goals and the activities or processes 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 first gather their team members and direct reports to “frame it up” by asking a lot of questions — What’s the #1 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? Getting these key questions answered creates consensus and transparency about what you’re striving for and how you’re 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 and wondered, “Why am I here?” Every meeting should have a clearly defined purpose, i.e., “In today’s meeting, I’d like to accomplish x, y and z within an hour’s time.” If you don’t have a goal for a meeting, you might as well cancel it and just let everyone keep on working.
What prevents you or your team from having that “goal mindset”?