Goal setting is an activity almost every employee in the corporate world is familiar with. You often have to set goals for your team members and also work towards the goals set for you by your managers. These goals are usually in line with the broader strategy of the organisation which is broken down into organisation, function, team and individual-specific goals. We are also familiar with setting SMART goals. They can be defined as follows depending upon what is most relevant to you.

S - specific, significant, stretching.

M - measurable, meaningful, motivational.

A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented.

R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented.

T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable.

A lot of people like using SMART goals. However, there are other aspects of goal setting that need attention. What happens in reality is that following types of goal setting situations occur often instead of crisp, clear well-aligned goals being set.

1. No goals

Very often people operate from no specific goals. It may happen a lot at startups, during mergers or when new teams get formed for whatever reason. Think about the time when you had to come into work day in and day out, and there was no real goal defined for you or your team. It is uninspiring and challenging to stay motivated in such a scenario. As a people manager, it is essential to recognise that and try and give some sense of a goal to your team even if the situation prevents you from doing so. If you find yourself in a no-goal environment, step up, ask questions and try and come up with at least a rough framework to keep yourself engaged. Demand and insist for your goals to be specified to you. On the other hand, if you are someone who enjoys such autonomy, then you may thrive in such an environment.

2. Trivial goals

Boredom sets in if all you are working with are trivial goals. If you are capable of doing more than what is expected of you, don’t wait around for anyone to come and offer it to you. Don’t be scared to ask for it. Seek challenges that bring a sense of excitement within you. Those that are a right balance between applying what you know well and learning something new while making a difference.

3. Mismatched goals

Goals that you are expected to accomplish which are not in line with your skill set and future aspirations may not be beneficial in your career growth. Sometimes it may be required to do this work. In those cases, bite the bullet and do it but make sure you don’t continue doing this for long. Let people know.

4. Unrealistic goals

Often managers take on unrealistic goals for their teams that may require crazy deadlines, continually coming in on weekends or not having the needed skills and resources. It can be quite an issue both in the short term and the long run. Make sure the communication and understanding between your team and you are clear before you take on such endeavours. It will be hard to build trust within your team if this is a frequent occurrence.

5. Changing goals

If you face a situation where the senior management is making too many changes to their strategy and the focus is changing too often think about how it feels for you. While some people that love being in a changing environment might thrive here others that need more stability may not. Getting comfortable and operating in a rapidly changing environment is a skill. If the core reasons for changing goals seems to make sense, you will be able to embrace it better.

What is the goal situation at your place of work? What about your personal goals in life? Goals are a fantastic construct that can be used to work towards and achieve whatever you want to have successful and progressive career growth. Pay attention to how you can improve your own and your team's goal game.

Bhavna Dalal
Bhavna Dalal
Image : Talent Power Partners

Views are personal

The author is the founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners a global Leadership Development company based in Bangalore. She is a Leadership Development Specialist, an ICF Certified Executive Coach [PCC] and author of the book Team Decision Making. The views expressed in this article are not those of Fortune India.

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