Guest Blog: 5 Top Tips for Goal Setting

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5 Top Tips for Goal Setting

Written by Hedda Bird, author of The Performance Management Playbook


New Year – a time for new start, new commitments, new goals!

Sadly most of us know that lots of great promises to ourselves and others on January 1st are falling away before the end of the month. What can you do to make it different this year? As far as your goals at work, the answer is to think differently about what you are setting out to do. Setting dull goals that don’t inspire you - or are simply the annual project plan re-written as goals - isn’t going to do much for your motivation or engagement. Try these tips below to give yourself a new year boost

Be ambitious, coach ambition

Ask yourself, what could be achieved in your area? What would make a significant difference? What’s the most ambitious idea you can come up with? Take that idea, and develop it into some specific steps to get you started. Even if the first step is ‘explore the idea with others’, that’s a motivating activity for you to kick the year off with.

Build a picture of excellence

For many people, the future is about applying skills and strengths to whatever your organisation needs. Think about your skills, how could they create most value in your role? Are you playing to your strengths, or taking on a lot of work that isn’t a great fit for you? Talk to your manager about refocusing your work around your strengths, or even ask your manager for their perspective on your strengths. Between you, explore what ‘excellence’ could look like in your role, not just delivering the numbers, but all the many ways you can create value for customers, colleagues, and the organisation. Write your full picture of excellence down, and keep referring to it through the year, it will help you stay motivated.

Set up to succeed

Whether you are setting expectations for yourself or your team, set everyone up to succeed. Capture ambition, and reward those who aim high even if they may not achieve every aspect of their vision. Use pictures of excellence to focus on the successful stuff. If you are setting your own goals, give yourself a ‘baseline’ you know you can deliver, then push for all you can achieve. Doing great work is one of the main ways we stay motivated.

Develop multiple sources of feedback

It’s hard to keep on top of your performance if your only source of reference is your manager. Make sure you know what a great job looks like from your perspective, and discuss with your manager what other sources of feedback would be useful. Maybe there is some relevant statistical data that will indicate progress, or perhaps there are other stakeholders who can give you personal feedback? What would you need to know to be confident you are doing a good job? What would your team need to know?

Failure is simply learning on the way to success

And if you don’t get everything right first time, use the experience to learn from. What went well, how could you have avoided the problems? Is there a different way to get the results you wanted?

Try these 5 tips as an alternative to writing a handful of dull goals that you won’t look at again until the end of the year. I promise you, you’ll have a more inspiring start to your year, and so will your colleagues.


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This content has been created by authors in their personal capacity. Any views, thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson.