By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Goal setting should not be looked at as a necessary evil, after all, you are collaborating with your leader and team on ways to improve work and drive business success. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you go through the goal setting process:
Think about your long-term career path. Identify what your ideal next professional role is and the qualifications and skills you will need. Set up your personal goals in a way that allows you to learn those skills and attain the right accomplishments.
Look at the big-picture. Career development requires a broad scope of skills and experiences. Add educational opportunities to your goal list and consider looking at rotations in other departments. Knowing how different parts of the company fit together will prove useful and may set you apart.
Be clear on what goal achievement looks like. You know that a good workplace goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound but go beyond the basics and visualize what goal achievement would look like. Perhaps it would make a project flow easier or allow the team to work more effectively?
Schedule regular check-ins. Setting work goals is not limited to one conversation at the start of the performance period. Any plan must be flexible and be able to adapt to new priorities or workplace realities. Talk with your leader about the status and progress of your goals throughout the year.
Ask for support if needed. Great performers don’t do it alone and they realize that they can achieve more with the help of others. Look for a mentor internally and build a network of outside professionals who care about your success. Talk to them, ask for advice and listen!
Periodically compare your annual goals with your weekly to-do list. Setting goals at work is great for plotting out big-picture targets for the year but putting out daily fires and taking care of new assignments can make it difficult to stay focused. Do a periodic check of how well your weekly to-do list aligns with your overall work goals. If the two have nothing to do with each other, you may need to adjust.
Track your accomplishments. It can be difficult to recall a full year of successful projects at the end of the performance period. Make it easier by keeping a running list of your wins. List everything from meeting regular deadlines to important projects and presentations.
Overall, it’s important to make goal setting an ongoing practice. Clarify expectations for every new assignment and have a conversation after a project is completed to review what went well and what could have been done better. Remember that you only grow and improve if you know what skills and habits need more work. Keep the lines of communication open, and you will set yourself up for more interesting work and career advancement.