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In this weekly series, Todd Dewett, PhD, shares the tips respected and motivated managers use to improve rapport, navigate tricky situations, build better relationships, and drive the business forward. Each week, we'll release two tips ranging from avoiding the dreaded micromanagement to managing a multigenerational workforce, cultivating better listening skills, and developing an understanding of your organization's politics. Check back every Wednesday for more Management Tips.
This course qualifies for 5.25 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.
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Everyone knows that goals are useful motivational tools. In fact, no area of the organizational sciences has received more support than goal theory. For individuals, groups and organizations, goals work. We have limited time and resources and goals provide needed focus. Of course for goals to work, they have to be crafted correctly. Likely the most famous model for talking about goals is the SMART model. That stands for specific, measurable, aligned, reachable and time bound.
Specific means they should be very clear and concrete, and detailed. Measurable means we can collect data to check our progress. Aligned means that all goals are working to support each other. Reachable means they're not too difficult. And time bound reminds us to have clear deadlines. These are very useful standards to evaluate goals. But I want to push you further. Specifically, I want you to think about the reachable part of the model. Yes, most of the time goals should be modestly challenging, but still reachable.
However, another line of thinking suggests that on occasion, goals should be crazy challenging. I'd like you to think about using a BHAG. BHAG. That stands for big, hairy, audacious, goal. I can promise you this, if your goals are not audacious at least once in a while, your performance won't be audacious either. Save goals are useful, and I support them. But they can lead to smaller, incremental improvements. Once every two to three years, you as an individual and your team, need to embrace a BHAG.
Think of it this way. You can run three miles, or you could complete a marathon. You can plan to grow revenues by 5% or you can create a plan to achieve 25% growth. You could choose to be competitive, or like General Electric famously did, you can decide to be number one or number two in every market you serve. Those are audacious goals. The occasional audacious goal pushes you and helps you learn about your potential and limits, and the limits of your team. I'm not naive, so I know you can't look at all aspects of your life, or all aspects of your team's performance and start dictating audacious goals.
Choose one or two areas. Think long-term and engage the team in the discussion. Start dreaming out loud about how some aspect of who you are can become way better. Not a little better, but a astoundingly better. You'll never know what you and the team are capable of, if you don't start pushing to test your capabilities. The team might experience a little extra stress and fatigue when pursuing a really audacious goal, but isn't that worth it? When you look back and smile at various accomplishments in life, which ones are they? That's right.
The ones that were the most difficult to achieve. Goals are wonderful. Reachable goals are very important. But once in a while, choose to be more than merely reasonable. Every couple of years, try a good BHAG because when your goals are audacious, your performance just might be too.
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