Moving the Goal Posts

January 10, 2011 at 7:11 AM

It is a New Year and my email box is brimming with invitations to attend workshops, webinars, or use the latest on-line tools in order to adopt new ways for setting goals and objectives. Sometimes the marketing messages are thought provoking; performance management systems are broken or discredited; companies waste most of the information they collect through performance reviews; individuals overestimate what can be achieved in twelve months and underestimate what can be achieved in five years. 

So this year, when reviewing the last twelve months and starting to set this year’s goals, I stopped to reflect on my own process and beliefs. I noted what I was thinking and feeling and these are the consequent reflections from one Executive Coach on the changing nature of this process.

For example, have you noticed how often our goal setting processes invite us to review the previous twelve months when considering the next twelve? We dust off our preferred template which has some initial questions, such as, ‘what did I accomplish, what were my biggest disappointments, what did I learn? ¹ These often carry caveats such as to answer with a positive mind, and to remember that ‘mistakes are the portals of discovery’.²

For anyone trained in performance management, this method of review is likely to satisfy and provoke helpful analysis, explanation, and defence. And if earnings or promotions are linked to its outcome, then such a process will be considered beneficial for organisational survival or wellbeing. We welcome the opportunity to reflect on our achievements over the past year. It gives us self-worth and confidence to ask for recognition. We feel satisfied that the present is projected forward and it focuses our attention on things we understand - standards, measures, and practical actions.

But what if our aims need to be different. What if we want to create an alternative future rather than to improve on the past? And, what if the future can no longer be predicted from the past because of the speed by which technological change is transforming the nature of business? ³ Could this be one of the reasons why performance management systems are viewed as broken, or why creativity is on the agenda of so many companies today?

We know that in order to create or to ‘let come’ we first have to ‘let go’ ?.  If our aim is to create an alternative future then our opening questions will be of the kind that are used by visionary leaders and community builders to encourage innovation and creativity. So, for example, these questions will be: ‘how can we do better tomorrow than we did today ?; what is the crossroads we face at this stage; what is the story we keep telling about the present, and how valuable do we plan for this (effort) to be?’ ?

Once we accept that the goal posts are moving, and that creativity rather than problem solving is the name of the game, then we can move to the next stage for bringing the future into the present.

Coach: Liz Buckle

©2011 Plus Partnership Ltd



Tags: Coaching Performance Management Goal Setting
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Please add a comment

Posted by Latesha on
Now I feel stupid. That's clreaed it up for me
Posted by Therese on
I would describe the siuattion as is. I would not make any recommendations or judgments. As a follow up, I would ask the group what they felt about their absence and if they thought anything should be done about the absences. If the group did not have a problem, I would proceed with the process.
Posted by Therese on
I would describe the siuattion as is. I would not make any recommendations or judgments. As a follow up, I would ask the group what they felt about their absence and if they thought anything should be done about the absences. If the group did not have a problem, I would proceed with the process.
Posted by Therese on
I would describe the siuattion as is. I would not make any recommendations or judgments. As a follow up, I would ask the group what they felt about their absence and if they thought anything should be done about the absences. If the group did not have a problem, I would proceed with the process.
Posted by Kapri on
This intrimafoon is off the hizool!
Posted by Kapri on
This intrimafoon is off the hizool!
Posted by Kapri on
This intrimafoon is off the hizool!
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