Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dummies' guide to setting your goals

' .. and one last thing. Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting your goals. Just write up 5-6 goals and send them to me. I know I totally forgot about it........'

Let's face it. A lot of us have mentors or bosses who think that we can churn up our individual yearly goals like bullet ridden chevrons on a Powerpoint template. It definitely isn't that easy. Or is it?

The foundation of any performance management system is a well written goal. Without that, there's nothing you are working to achieve and thus nothing to measure your performance with. Giving a set of poorly defined goals is definitely not about cheating the system. It could in fact, be cheating you of that long-deserved promotion.

So, what should go into your goals- here's a quick guide. First, consider the different aspects that your company gives importance to. They could be among Client Service, Industry knowledge, Service Area expertise, Developing the practice, Developing the firm and Developing yourself. Some firms do give a lot of importance on learning while some others take into account your participation in firm initiatives and CSR work. Once you have this list, mark off the few you would like to focus on. While this largely depends on the company you work for, make sure you have a decent coverage of the different elements.

Now you apply the age old formula - SMART. Remember to add in information on how you would be able to measure you against your goal. For those of you who have no clue or need a quick refresher:

S- Specific- Always make sure your goal is specific and to the point. Mention the exact area of development, how you would work towards it and how it is going to be useful. Example: I will help in building the organisation by participating in recruitment activities to ensure the best talent is attracted and recruited. I will participate in at least 3 recruiting initiatives in the next one year.

M- Measurable- Like I mentioned earlier, quantify your goal in some form. Make sure that it is easy to measure your work and performance. Wherever it makes sense, add a number - number of online courses, clients, activites, deliverables, anything.

A- Attainable- Let's play a little safe. Don't go about promising the earth, the moon and the 800 billion stars. Ensure your goal is attainable, if you can stretch a little. Be practical and see that they are not entirely out of each.

R- Realistic - Honestly, can we do this? Is it too less? Is it too much? Do we have the commitment to get through it? Your goals have to be realistic and reasonable. If you make people laugh at your goals, you should have the confidence and responsibility to achieve them and have the last laugh.

T- Time bound- All goals need to have a timeline to it. While most goal setting processes occur yearly, feel free to have time lines for a part of or the entire goal. If you think you can sell 5 of those X-ray machines in 1 month, go ahead and put it in there.

Lastly, make sure that your goals are your own. Add in a personal dream like taking a class in Diversity or interviewing at your alma mater and experience the joy as you work towards it.


kasewa said...

the SMART goal... one of the many little things HR professionals sell to clients regularly without the faintest intention of ever implementing it themselves...

sorry if i offend and generalize. however, this truly has been my experience...

Sandhya said...

Well, I can send you my personal goals sometime and you can see how SMART they are!

kasewa said...

heh... you're a SMART one, aren't you? don't take it personally... dil pe mat le yaar