Why Goal-Setting Systems Have to Be Simple
In every company, the team is valued by the number of assignments they successfully fulfill. One of the most important pillars in completing the assignment quota is also the one that is known to backfire if used incorrectly.
Goal-setting is simply the act of focusing on achieving a certain goal by a team of people or an individual.
Even though it sounds not as complex, it is a very delicate matter that can actually make or mentally break an individual or a team.
It is very important to be careful with using different goal-setting systems, as not all people are bringing their full potential with every system, they are not universal.
That is why it is very important not to go overboard with an overly complicated system that could confuse you or a team of workers.
A poorly structured goal-system may lead to your team doing unnecessary or already done tasks.
However, not every system is built for everyone, regardless of how simple or complex it might seem. Some teams or individuals might find a certain system too much of a hindrance to their type of work.
In that case, the best possible thing is to consult with your team and try out multiple systems before you all agree on a winning one.
In this text, you will mostly find out how you can help yourself or your team with simpler systems for setting goals by focusing on various concepts.
You will also learn how to simplify a system as much as possible and what are the essential parts that every system must possess in order to be successful and considered simple.
In addition, a few examples of some interesting goal-setting systems that are proved to be successful and that can be applied to work projects will be mentioned so stay tuned.
CHUNKING SAVES MOTIVATION AND WILLPOWER
You need to understand that motivation and willpower are currencies. There is a limited amount of that specific energy that you wake up with every day so you should be wary not to spend it in vain.
Simply doing things is not what necessarily spends your energy. It’s doing things that you don’t enjoy that’s detrimental to your motivation.
Doing things to which you are naturally inclined wastes negligible amounts of willpower. It’s when going gets tough that the tough get going.
In other words, your motivation is measured by how well you manage to make yourself do what you don’t feel like doing.
That’s why chunking your goals and to-do lists are the best things you can do.
Start with smaller steps so as not to demotivate yourself from the start.
How many times have you made a perfect to-do list for tomorrow and then you got up and started procrastinating from the moment you laid eyes upon your goals. That’s because you planned too much.
It’s better to plan little and take baby steps than to overreach and fail to check the simplest of the assignments.
There’s a force of psychological inertia that works to boost your willpower or to make it spiral down into the abyss.
Every time you finish the assignment you get that reward circuitry working in your favor.
Every time you fail, it turns against you so be wary.
Chunk your list to simplicity. Make fewer and smaller goals and then slowly raise the bar.
CHUNKING GOAL SYSTEMS WORK FOR TEAM PLAY AS WELL
If you know your team well and have worked with them for a longer time, it is likely that you are aware of the motivation and ambitions of each one of your members.
For a smaller project, you can try to make specific plans for each member.
You are probably thinking about how time-consuming that sounds.
Honestly, it is time-consuming, but you are catering to each of your members.
In a psychological sense, they will feel special and grateful that you have invested time in member-specific plans and will motivate them more.
In this way, you are making a bigger number of simple plans for each member, taking into account their skills and motivation.
Motivation is important because you can see which members can take a bigger bite of the job and can withstand it than some other members of the team.
Be aware that you have to know your team, there might be problems if you set the goal too high for some members.
In conclusion, the advantages of this type of approach to planning are that you are making the goals for each member of the team as simple as they can be.
You are not setting the goal holistically, but linking the parts of the project to each member of the team, instead of showing a huge list of goals and jobs that might scare or make your members lose motivation.
Know what motivates your members and make a short and simple-steps plan that might challenge them to fulfill their ambition
This article is a really well-written piece about the psychological effects on people a goal plan can have and how it can increase the willingness to pursue certain ambitions.
Give it a read if you want to investigate the psychological aspects of a good goal-setting system or a plan.
FOCUS ON A GOAL OR A STEP OF THE PLAN
A great number of team leaders make a habit of showing the long term plan to their teams and overload their members of the team a bit.
Honestly, there is nothing wrong with that approach but there is a chance of making some of the team members feel burdened.
Many corporations show their employees the second, third, or fourth step, before even starting the work on the first stage of the project.
The catch here is to help your team members focus not on goals, but on a goal.
Finishing a simple step of the project helps you get closer to the completion of the project you are currently tasked with finishing.
You will undoubtedly better prepare your team in a mental sense for an upcoming task if you approach a project in this manner.
There is something in sports that psychologists call “goal competition” that can be applied in the corporate world.
Goal competition affirms that the greatest hurdle to someone who is chasing or focusing on a goal is simply another goal or goals.
The energy, will, and focus to achieve the goal will be distracted by the other one, who is peeking right there at you and making you lose focus.
The simplest solution to “goal competition” is to take it slower than usual and focus on one goal at a time.
This will not only take the psychological burden off of your team members, making them not think or worry about other stages but also make them excited for the suspenseful unveiling of the details of the next stage.
In conclusion, the main idea here is that you present the project, not in a detailed multiple-step approach, but withholding the details of the second step until the first step is finished, thus avoiding the information overload of your workers and enforcing a focused and manageable experience.
SIMPLE GOAL-SETTING SYSTEMS MAKE IT EASIER TO PRIORITIZE GOALS
Simplicity makes it transparent and easier to manipulate.
The fewer goals you have the easier it gets to structure them. Now, the structure needs to have hierarchy and there’s couple of ways to give priority to goals.
You can prioritize by urgency, importance or difficulty of the task at hand.
Prioritizing is essential for both individual and team productivity as you can’t always manage to check all your to-dos for the day. What’s even more important, you may save significant amounts of energy by putting your goals in order.
You don’t want to shower first and do your exercise later because you’ll get sweaty and you’ll need to shower again, right?
Thus, you need to prioritize exercise to taking showers otherwise you’ll double the work. The same goes in terms of teamwork.
Sometimes a work package for team members can contain multiple and more difficult tasks that have to be finished, no matter the simplicity of the system that was presented by the team leader.
In short, the system is presented as a simple one is filled with difficult tasks and requirements for the team members, so it might look too complex for them.
In the case where there is no option of decreasing the workload, the team leader should be a strong proponent of instilling an independent prioritization in their team members.
Independent prioritization is meant to be an important skill for your team members as they learn what jobs or parts of the job must be done first.
In this way, you are teaching them how to cope with an overabundance of work and split the assignments into smaller sections, and then analyze them.
This is applied to every entry in this article, but as a boss, you should not just put the plan of tackling the project on the backboard before explaining it to your team.
By encouraging prioritization, you show them that you believe in their skills and that it sometimes is easier to finish a smaller part of the project before jumping forward or back to the part that gave you trouble.
Although be warned: you should definitely give them the heads-up that prioritization does not mean that some parts of the project are to be neglected.
On the contrary, they are to be finished, but sometimes you have to skip over a hole that is giving you trouble, in order to look back at it and fill it up.
Have in mind that sometimes it is a good move to try to see the limits of your workers in this way, as they can learn many interesting skills such as the aforementioned prioritization, as well as building their confidence with assignments of higher difficulty, just be careful not to overload them too much or you can expect your members to search for articles such as these.
Unfortunately, sometimes the job requirements are a bit harsher than usual, even if the goals are presented in a simpler more difficult system, you can simplify the presentation.
GOAL-SETTING SYSTEM TRAITS
Goal-setting systems are important in every project.
Find a happy middle road in the levels of elaboration of the system and try it to be digestible and easy to understand.
The most important trait. Make the system as simple as possible, with clear goals, and a few words that encourage the team to remember the plan easier.
Simplify the plan to avoid overwhelming feeling in the team members.
Ask yourself whether your system is simple and what would be the level of simplicity before using it.
Be concise with your plan and presentation of the plan. Be brief in form but comprehensive in scope. Try not to overcomplicate with excess information as it would only confuse your team members and make your system more complicated.
Conciseness is the most important characteristic of any simple plan for achieving goals as it hits the mark by giving the most essential information needed to succeed in doing the assignment successfully.
Go through the system and test if it is concise and filled with the essential and needed information.
Is your system clear with the given goals? Is every team member’s role in the system clear? Is the job that is required to be done by your team members clear to them? That is what clarity envelops. All these have to be understood by the members of your team on their own.
On many occasions, the plan is sent to your team members and you as the team leader will not be always there for them, so they have to understand and use the plan as reference or a reminder what their part of the job is, how does their plan fit within the whole, and what their role in the project is.
Without clarity, your team members might not put their one hundred percent of themselves into the job and might do it poorly.
The simpler your goal setting system is, the more flexible it is.
Flexibility is important if there is a chance that not everything might go smoothly. Your system has to be flexible and easy enough to apply minor changes if things might change and require adapting.
Even though not the most important trait, it is good to try and think a few moves ahead and be ready for any rough waters that your team and you might encounter.
The plan should be seen holistically by you and comprised of smaller units or assignments that fit together to form the project.
The sum of its parts should be seen as a connected whole, whether your team members need to see all the parts is up to you.
Some people believe that their team members do the job better by focusing on their exclusive and individual smaller parts that when joined form the entire project.
If you think that your team will do a better job by knowing all the parts of the project, then, by all means, go for it.
Is your plan comprehensive? Your team members have to understand the system you are using to easily understand their goals.
Your team members should be able to easily analyze the goals and the assignments they are given and should be able to easily grasp the goal that is set before them.
These are some of the traits that you should take into account when you make a system that you want to use with your team.
Understand that you do not need to score a perfect ten with every trait that has been listed in this part of the text, you just have to try to hit the mark with as many as you can.
MAJOR GOAL-SETTING SYSTEMS YOU NEED TO KNOW
For this last part of the text, you will see some interesting goal-setting systems that can be applied to business planning and how they are successful.
“SMART goals” is a goal-setting system that is mostly used to set goals that you want to achieve in certain aspects of life. SMART is an acronym and it stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
These traits are something that you can use as a reference when creating a plan for your team. It should give you a more directed guideline as to which parts of your plan should be more detailed, as it gives your plans more depth.
The biggest advantage of this system is that gives a clear road to a good plan that you need to follow, so it is a perfect road map in a corporative sense. If you wish to learn more about SMART goals, this article is a good read.
Backward goal setting system
This system is pretty self-explanatory. It is a system in which you are focused on the ultimate goal and in which you work your way back to the first step. You can use this in your planning to present the scale of the project to your team members before breaking it down into steps.
Another interesting way you can use this system is a brainstorming session in which you, in a way, “reverse-engineer” the project with your team, making the steps together with your team members, working your way down until you get to the necessary constituents that make the whole.
If you wish to study more on this interesting system of setting goals, this article is full of additional information that you want to read.
OKR goal setting process
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results and is a system for goals popularized by Google.
It is a simple system that originated in the company Intel. It is fairly simple as it consists of two parts.
The first part is the objective and it should be ambitious, detailed, achievable, and difficult to hit.
The second part is the key results which are the ways you are going to achieve the objective or the roadmap to the objective.
Key results can have as many steps as necessary in order to get to the objective.
OKR’s biggest disadvantage is the people that use it. Be wary, as many have been too ambitious and have set up an OKR system in every department of a company, thus being overwhelmed with too many steps.
The SCRUM system
This is an interesting system that was popularized in the TV series “Silicon Valley”.
In the show, a small IT company was in a state of unorganized disarray that they had to incorporate a system in which they incorporate tracking of the jobs and stages of the project and add a bit of a challenge and competition between the programmers of who will do the most code work.
In this particular example, the SCRUM consists of a blackboard where a project is broken down into its essential characteristics that the project consists of put into the first column, and the various stages of coding and developing into the first row.
The post-its represent the work packages that need to be coded.
It is a visual system that is easily followed and updated in real-time.
In conclusion, every company has to fulfill the assignments to be successful. In the end, it is on the leaders of the teams to motivate them and give them as much support as possible to provide results.
Having said that, it is of vital importance to provide the team members a good goal system, so they can bring a work project to a successful end.
The systems have to be as simple as possible in order to avoid confusion among the team members to be able to complete as many assignments as possible.
As a team leader, you have to always show your team members what is required of them, help them how to achieve it, assign the jobs to certain team members so everybody knows who does what, and the important dates, such as the project deadline and smaller stages deadlines.
Although there are traits that every simple system has, there is not a guaranteed way to make a universally simple and effective system, which is why communication with your team members is essential.
Finally, you have been provided with a couple of famous goal-setting systems that have been used for a long time, which have been transformed into use for work projects in a corporative sense.
Some of these systems have some disadvantages, but most have been proven effective if used correctly and with caution.
All in all, when making a goal-setting system for your team, it is important to give your best to be as direct and try to give only the essential information.
Remember that there is no universally great system and that bumps in the road are a normal thing before you make that one system that suits your team.
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