top of page
  • Writer's pictureJon Mechan

Approaching Goals from a Different Angle

As a leader you often have to consider the topic of goals, both for yourself and for your team. Frequently, however, they don't feel like something you want to do, more like something you have to do.

That's because the way they're often implemented in a corporate context is clunky, uninspiring, and impersonal. They become a box-ticking exercise rather than being actually useful.

A few months ago I wrote about themes rather than resolutions. One of the ways to support your themes is to use goals that help get you there - goals that work for you.

These days there's a lot of different approaches to goals - SMART, PACT, OKRs, you name it, someone's got an idea and an accompanying acronym for it. I came across another one the other day that I found interesting - NICE.

NICE rather than SMART

The idea of SMART goals has been around for a long time - it encourages you to create goals that are:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Realistic

  • Time-bound

This is...fine, I guess...but tends to focus only on outcomes - you'll only really know you've reached a goal when you get there.

NICE has a slightly more personal approach:

  • Near-Term

  • Identity-Based

  • Controllable

  • Energising

Near-term encourages you to focus on things that are happening soon - perhaps for the next quarter or so. Longer term goals can be steered towards using themes.

Identity-based - focusing less what you do and more about who you become. I wrote a little about this in the context of triple-loop learning here.

Controllable goals are ones that you have influence over - it's easy to get stuck in a situation where you're trying to reach a goal and can't because of things that are out of your scope of control.

Energising activities are ones that get you excited and motivated towards getting them done. If working on a goal feels like a slog it's unlikely that you'll make progress on it.

Ideally, try to link what you're doing to business objectives and outcomes. If you do you're going to position yourself well for success.

Process vs Outcome

It doesn't fit neatly into the acronym but I think it can also be useful to ensure the goal is trackable as well - I prefer trackable to measurable as it encourages a focus on process rather than outcome.

For example, a goal might include calling 5 potential customers a day rather than making 20 new clients a month. Focusing on the process usually will have a positive effect on the outcome. It's also a better lead indicator than lag indicator.

If the process is correct, and moving things in the right direction, the outcome will take care of itself. If you don't see a positive effect on the outcomes, then the process itself may well need to be adjusted.

Donuts are always a good choice

Choosing What Works for You

In most business contexts there's a one-size-fits-all approach to goal setting, mandated by the HR department or similar. As a leader I'd encourage you to use whatever approach works best for you. If you like OKRs, great, go ahead and use them. If you prefer SMART or NICE, go for it. Make sure you tick the boxes for HR and do what works for you.

The main thing is that you have goals that are resonant for you, in a similar way to themes.

If not then they're not going to inspire you to action. This is where goal-setting is important - don't create goals that are just going to track your day-to-day, or the things that you should be doing anyway. That approach can be helpful for more junior members of staff who perhaps need more guidance and support. For more experienced people those things are a given - choose things that are going to push you instead.

Find goals that align with your themes and help you to get closer to where you want to go or what you want to create. If it's guaranteed that you'll achieve the goal, that's a bit boring and unlikely to inspire you to new ideas or to reach new heights.

I would also encourage you to think about goals holistically - not just in a work context but in a personal one too. It is inevitable that there is some overlap between home and professional so making sure you have some loose goals that help you make progress in all aspects of your life.

Don't create too many - you don't need a list as long as your arm - just a few that are resonant and help you keep on track.

So what are your goals for the next period? How will you support your theme?

If you found this useful, please consider subscribing to my newsletter here. You’ll receive articles like this in your inbox every couple of weeks. Thank you!

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page