Professional Goal Setting 101: Establishing Goals That Help You

 In Best Practices, Culture, Current Trends, Professional Development

Setting goals. Are you trying to get ahead? Or are you trying to change the world? You can’t have both.

This is an article about individual business goal-setting and the place it holds within an organization. The thoughts and ideas reflected within are based on an interview with Boston-based Jessica Kenney, Revenue Marketing Director.

There is a shift in our work environments. Some of these trends have been silently making progress for a long time and some are more recent. Either way, the work environment from five years ago is quite different than the one surrounding us today. And, from where we see it, it’s an exciting time to be working. 

The following are a list of some of the more popular trends affecting work environments today. It’s likely you work in an organization already tackling some of these trends today, but if not, it’s likely you’ll have to soon.  

1. Technology learns faster than us.

And, according to Deloitte’s Future of Work video, The New Realities of Work, technology (including AI) has changed our individual lives faster than our business lives. And I agree with Deloitte. This is a good thing because as stated in the video, we’ll be more acceptable, open and ready as more and more AI technology and the like enters into our business lives. (#AIoneverything) The rub here is that if we are organizations not open to learning, accepting, trusting and growing in this way, we’ll be left behind.

2. A culture-driven organization stands a better chance to succeed than one that’s rigidly rules-based. via 

And leading the culture-driven charge? Quite possibly healthcare. Although, as you might expect Google (and tech) still ranks as the #1 choice up and coming workers want to hang their hat. The benefit? — increased employee satisfaction and retention.

3. Casual dress codes are making a come back. via

With companies such as Goldman Sachs and Virgin Atlantic getting on board, you might agree with the idea “dress to impress” is taking on a different form. Practices such as these are tangible evidence that companies are putting power (and trust)  in the hands of their employees.

4. The era of convenience has arrived. via 

Now that we can officially say we are in the gig economy, it’s time we acknowledge what that means to us, as businesses and as humans. It’s certainly not for everyone, but for those who have found a way to be professional nomads, they have also found freedom to discover how to find focus and drive a sustainable profit in non-traditional ways. (I can feel the younger schoolkids once bound by the results of their SAT scores jump for joy.) 

One of the biggest successes of this economy: 

Nas Daily. He made 1000 videos in 1000 days, and changed is career path in the process. Oh, and is he successful? Yes. Yes he is. Net worth of Nas Daily: $1 million.

It’s trends like these that set the tone for goal-setting within our professional environment today. And it’s conversations like the one I had with Jessica that remind me if we don’t, as human beings, choose to pick goals that help us as individuals grow, learn, challenge and thrive then we are missing the mark. Completely. Yes, our goals should be feeding the bigger beast that is the profit-hungry animal who sustains our living. But it does not have to control us. Actually, quite the opposite. The more succinct and clear the business goals of an organization are the more succinct and clear department, team and individual goals can be.    

Jessica recommends the goals, while short-term and in the present, should put you on the path for long-term success. This means the more we know where we’re headed, the better we can use our goals to help us get there. Goals need to help us refine our skills, eliminate waste, solve a problem, and even fail at times. And each of us has to know what is really driving our goal-setting and hunger for “success”.  Because “getting ahead” sets you on quite a different path than “saving the world”.

One rule of thumb is to create goals that are 70% specific to your day-to-day work and make the other 30% about professional development.

There are a million and one ways to practice goal setting. Some include:

  • Use SMART goals
  • Write everything down
  • Think about metrics (Sirius recommends, measure impact, output, and activity metrics)
  • Utilize others via mentorship and shadowing
  • Get professional help

But this isn’t the point of this article. This article is more about helping you think through and create goals that help you. In order to hit this point home, here are a few examples of what individual goals should NOT look like:

  • Reach X number of MQLs
  • Hold X amount of field events
  • Increase TOFU leads by X
  • Create X webinars for the quarter
  • Lunch X number of campaigns per month

“These are not goals. They are your job,” says Jessica Kenney. I couldn’t have said this better myself. These examples reflect tasks and objectives that need to be hit regardless of your individual contribution. And while you will certainly affect them, you should specify your contribution in much more specific ways. Here are a few examples of individual goals worth fulfilling:

  • Become better at receiving & giving feedback, considering other viewpoints and a more effective influencer by listening and understanding how my actions are perceived. 
  • Gain the ability to drive behavior of the marketing team and key stakeholders towards common goals through improving my communication skills.
  • To learn to become a more confident, credible and influential communicator by learning how to influence rather than only share/inform. 

(Example of goals graciously provided by Jessica Kenney.)

Goals are more than words on paper. Goals evoke emotion and action. They are powerful statements. And not only should you create them with thought and intention, you should give thought to how they make you feel. Do they make you feel like you will become more well-rounded, empowered, confident? Do they sound like you? Will they help you grow and learn?

Jessica manages a global team across North America and EMEA. She is a believer in goals. She is also a believer in empowering and encouraging herself and her team to build, share, collaborate and stand by goals that, at the end of the day, put you on a path to a better you. And a better you leads to a better business. You might want to climb the proverbial corporate ladder AND change the world. But you’ll likely only be able to do one at a time. Better to know today and plan for that future.

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