Driving Personal Productivity Through Goals or Objectives

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This blog was originally posted by Tiffany Kuehl on the Peformance I Create blog. Every other Wednesday, Blogging4Jobs will feature a guest post from the up-and-coming multi-contributor blog, Performance I Create. 

The beginning of the year often serves as a time for reflecting on what we have accomplished during the previous year, and identifying our plans and focus for the coming year. Successful organizations make strategic planning a priority, set long-range goals, and identify objectives to assist with achieving those goals. As individuals, it is equally important for us to set our own goals and objectives to help drive personal productivity and contribute to business results. As you document your road map for success, here are some things you should keep in mind.

Goal vs. Objective

While “goal” and “objective” are frequently used interchangeably, they are different and serve different purposes. Goals are broad and not necessarily measurable; however, they help guide your direction. Goals are something one tries to achieve, a general intention, such as – I will be healthy. Objectives are concrete and have a purpose or definitive target and can be validated, such as – I will hire a personal trainer to assist me with my exercise and eating routine, on or before March 1.

Although you have determined what you aim to accomplish for the year, take a moment to audit yourself and ensure what you are setting out to do is S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For example, a talent acquisition director may have the following:

  • Goal:  Provide candidates with a best-in-class recruiting experience
  • Objective:  Complete an analysis of candidate experience survey data from the last three years and identify key target areas for improvement by April 1

SPECIFIC

Define exactly what is to be achieved. What do you want to get done? Why does it need to be done? Who is involved? Why target this issue or action? What is the benefit?  In the example above, the talent acquisition director knows exactly what is to be achieved and why – an analysis of the feedback provided by candidates.

MEASURABLE

Be sure to indicate what the benchmark is. This will help you, and others, determine whether or not your objective has been met. There should be an observable outcome. When your activity or task has been completed, is cost, quality, and quantity impacted? If so, how do you know? Our talent acquisition director’s performance can be measured by whether or not the analysis of candidate survey data is complete.

ATTAINABLE

Make sure the objective is something within your control. Is this objective achievable? Is it something you have the desire and motivation to accomplish? As a talent acquisition director, reviewing feedback from candidates who have gone through the recruitment process is well within his/her span of control.

REALISTIC

Is this work you are willing and able to do? Do you have the tools and resources available to you to get the work done? If the accomplishment of the objective requires skills beyond your reach or requires authorization that is not within your span of control, the objective at hand may not be a realistic one for you. Reviewing candidate feedback is definitely a realistic action for a talent acquisition leader to take.

TIMELY

Setting a date for completion helps you attain your desired outcome.  Assigning a due date helps prevent your objective from being overruled by the day-to-day issues and activities that come up in your work or life. Use a specific timeframe (i.e. days, weeks, months or an exact day or date). Your deadline should be clear. Our candidate experience objective is timely as the target completion date for the analysis of candidate survey data is set for April 1.

 Other examples of S.M.A.R.T. objectives:

  • Implement a new hourly worker performance management program for use by all front line supervisors by July 31, 2013
  • Create a new employee onboarding program and submit it to the HR leadership team on or before March 31, 2013
  • Negotiate contract with third party payroll administrator by Q3 2013
  • Expand my professional network by attending at least three local SHRM chapter events in 2013 and exchange business cards with at least two people at each event.

Realistic objectives are motivating. If they include things you’re already doing they are not true objectives. Challenge yourself! And be sure your targets tie into or align with your organization/team objectives and goals.

To be successful, you should not just set your objectives and forget them. Take time throughout the year to ensure you are on track. As you achieve your objectives, set new ones. Or take an opportunity to modify them, ensure they are still relevant and suit your needs and the changing needs of your organization or team.

Good luck and much success!

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