Targets can be great – they can help you understand where you are going and enable you to focus on getting there. However, targets have the potential to adversely distort behaviour and damage potential - just as much as they can inspire.
We need to take control of the targets, otherwise they take control of us. Here’s advice on how to do this:
- Purpose driven targets
What is your organisation’s purpose? Do your targets serve that purpose or distract from it? Are you prepared to take control of these targets?
- Stretching beyond easy
Set targets that stretch; that take into account how we have done in the past, and what our current circumstances are. Targets that reward effort and learning.
- Push forward rather than holding back
Is this happening where you work? Are you being held back because of distortions like this? Can you take control, move beyond those targets and inspire others instead?
- Incremental steps rather than giving up
Have you given up on a target? Can you reset your expectations to learn from more incremental movements in the right direction, and celebrate each incremental move as it happens?
- Beyond competition
Rather than setting up competition, let’s reward people and teams for collaboration and sharing knowledge.
Taking control of targets
Whether we are in charge of target setting, or the recipient of targets set by others, we have a choice about whether those targets control us and distort our behaviour. Let’s dig deep and work out what our purpose really is and evaluate where we are against that purpose. And then let’s determine how we will act, learn and collaborate to achieve that purpose. If the targets help us, great. If the targets distract then let’s work around them, challenge them and change them.
By Jean Gamester, founder of Semaphora