target-1115856-mBy Kevin Eikenberry

When it comes to goal achievement, we as leaders, for the most part, have got it all wrong. It’s our job to help teams, departments and individuals set goals, but too often, we establish the goals, put plans in motion and then forget all about them, leaving employees to their own devices. When employees are virtual, it’s even harder to monitor their daily progress on goals, and so we don’t think about the goals until the day we realize when employees are failing to make progress on them.

Then we swoop in to uncover what is holding people up and usually find that employees lose sight of goals because more important or urgent tasks take precedence. Or they don’t understand the goal. Or they simply procrastinate.

We, as leaders, are mistaken when it comes to goals because we believe we can reach them “a little at a time.”  That makes as much sense as dusting one piece of furniture today, another tomorrow and another the next day. Once the polish and the rag are out, it is much more efficient to finish the job right then.

We can think about goals the same way. Both we and our employees try to make a little bit of progress, a little at a time. I’m not opposed to that in theory, and incremental progress can be valuable. However, if your employees or you aren’t progressing on your goals, the process isn’t working for your team, and it may be time to try a new approach.

I’m talking about a concentrated, massive action on a goal to make big progress. That requires that you and your employees put everything else aside, focus on the task and create momentum.

I suggest scheduling periodic Goal Days, perhaps even once a month, where employees are expected to set aside their core work and make progress on goal-oriented activities. (I mean, people often schedule office cleaning days. Why not a day of focused goal achievement activity?)

To hold employees accountable, review their efforts. Prove your commitment to the process by taking advantage of Goal Days to make progress on your own goals, and then share your progress with your team. During those bursts of effort, employees will make real progress on long-term goals that will ultimately improve their workplace skills, benefit the organization and further their careers.

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