The Power of Prime

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Business: Vision Goal Setting

Can goal setting really make a difference at work?

Vision goal setting is goal setting with a grand purpose. It begins with a dream based in your passion and inspiration in your work. From the dream comes a clear vision of where you want to be and what you want to do in your career. This vision projects you five, 10, and even 20 years in the future. Vision goal setting provides you with a clear "why," "what," "how," and "where" for your efforts.

Value of Vision Goal Setting

Vision goal setting (VGS) provides you with deliberate steps toward fulfilling your job responsibilities and career aspirations. It can increase your commitment and motivation to planning, preparation, and action. VGS can enhance your feelings of control over your work, which can improve your confidence, reduce stress, and help you focus. Because you have a clear idea of where you are heading and what you are doing, you can increase your efficiency, quality, and productivity.

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The bottom-line value of VGS is that motivation is not enough to be successful in business. You need to be able to harness that motivation in the most effective means possible. VGS acts as the road map (or GPS navigation, these days) that guides to your career destination.

Goal Guidelines

Goals should be challenging, but realistic and attainable. You should set goals that can be reached, but only with time and effort. If you set goals that are too easy, you'll reach them with little effort, so they will do little for your motivation. If you set goals that are too difficult, you won't be able to achieve them no matter how hard you try.

Goals should be specific and concrete. It's not sufficient to set a goal such as "I want to increase my sales numbers this year." Goals should be measurable, for example, "I want to increase my sales numbers by 10% in the next 12 months." This goal indicates the precise area to be worked on, the specific amount of improvement aimed for, and the time frame in which to achieve the goal.

Focus on degree of, rather than absolute, goal attainment. An inevitable part of goal setting is that you won't reach all of your goals because it's not possible to accurately judge what is realistic for every goal. You should be focused on how much of the goal you achieve (degree of attainment) rather than whether or not you fully reach the goal (absolute attainment). Though you won't attain all of your goals, you will almost always improve toward a goal.

Goal setting is a dynamic and fluid process. Goal setting is a process that never ends. When one goal is achieved, you should set another goal that is higher or in a different direction to continually allow yourself to improve. You should review your goals regularly, compare them to actual progress, and adjust them as needed.

Team goals must have consensus. Goals established by your company (or division, department, or team within) will be most effective when they are created together, agreed on, and require collaboration to achieve the goals.

Prepare a written contract. Research suggests that goal setting is most effective when it's prepared as a written contract comprised of explicit statements of your goals and the specific ways you will achieve them. This approach clearly identifies your goals and holds you accountable for the fulfillment of the contract.

Get regular feedback. One of the most important contributors to the effectiveness of vision goal setting is consistent feedback. You should get regular feedback about how you're doing in pursuing your goals from bosses, colleagues, or mentors.

Types of Goals

Each type of goal described below should be set at every level of your organization. Vision goal setting should begin at the level of the organization and then progress downward to division, department, team, and individual. The highest level organizational goals become the targets for all lower-level goals. Starting at the individual level, attainment of lower goals should lead to achievement of higher goals.

Vision goals identify the long-term objectives of the organization, team, or individual, for example, market share and revenues for company, production numbers for a group, or sales numbers for an individual.

The mission statement delineates the values, identity, and philosophy. Mission statements, though often though of as company-wide declarations, have equal value for groups and individuals within the organization.

Yearly goals offer companies tangible and "within-sight" objectives toward which senior management and team can strive. Relying on the goal guidelines described above, these goals should be specific, concrete, and challenging.

Project goals provide detailed objectives about the entire timeline of a assignment. Essential components of project goals include preparation, process, completion, outcomes, follow-up, and evaluation.

Weekly goals provide the action plan for implementation of the project goals. In other words, they describe the specific steps that will be taken in any given week to achieve the project goals.

The time and energy invested in vision goal setting can pay off many times over. The value to individual and organizational functioning and performance can be substantial and measurable. And increased organizational support, collaboration, and cohesion is an often-unrecognized benefit that will further bolster productivity and profitability.

 

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco.

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