Tip 4 will absolutely change your performance goals discussion this year!
It’s that time of year again at my company. I work for a consulting firm and it is that time of year where we are reviewing mid-year progress against performance goals we set earlier this year. During this time of year, we review what has been achieved thus far in the performance year, likelihood of hitting the goals set for the full year and make adjustments when needed. For example, if you set a goal of $3million in sales and we are at the midyear point and you’ve already hit 75% of that goal, you would probably revise that goal up. And vice versa. It’s a big deal in terms of end of year compensation and ratings. So as you can imagine, it creates lots of anxiety.
To help me with setting my performance goals, I use some tips that I learned from one of my mentors years ago. My mentor showed me that there is great value in talking with your network before finalizing goals for the year. And here’s why:
- It validates your targets and helps you to understand if you are aiming too low or too high with your goals. It can be an early look at what your peers are working on as well. If you set a goal of $2 million in sales and all of your peers are tracking to $4 million it would be good to know that before you set your sights on that $2 million
- It allows you to get insight on what leadership expects from employees at your level and often the next level (especially helpful if you are looking to be promoted).
So again this year, I made the rounds with several people in my professional network and got some good input on how to make my performance goals more meaningful and impactful. I decided to share a few of the insights that I learned this year.
- Understand the baseline. The culture within my organization is one where everyone is competitive. Imagine type A, driven, and persistent. Yeah, that’s us. Consulting skills and continuous improvement are table stakes, you won’t be around long if you are not excelling in client service delivery and constantly adding to your toolset and getting certifications or building skills in the latest industry trends. That’s the baseline and that will get you an average performance rating and a below average pay raise. via GIPHY
Ever heard of inflation? Yeah, that will eat an average pay raise right on up. So you have to work hard to differentiate yourself to stand out from your peers.
- Stretch Yourself. And for the reasons stated in tip #1, you need to set a couple of stretch goals. When talking about my goals with one of my go-to women leaders’ she recommended that I set stretch goals in areas where I was already executing. For example, one of the work products that I created is already being used in another client space. Expand on that use and present the product to the other project teams and that will help me meet my goals in the area of thought leadership.
- Be selective about how your spend your “free time”. You have to focus any extra time you have in your role on the activities and company initiatives where you can make an impact. It is much better to serve in a leadership role on one committee, than to spread your time across multiple committees and have minimal impact. What does that mean? Last year I decided to pull back on my support of multiple committees and instead served on one committee and led the planning and execution of several Business Women round table discussions. I was able to make a greater impact on the one committee that I was working with because I was selective about how I was spending my free time, rather than spread myself thin across multiple committees. Look at where you’re spending your “free time” and make sure you’re focused on the areas where you can have greatest impact.
- If you want the promotion, ask for it. It is not enough to do a good job and hope that it is noticed. WOMEN, please hear me here – if you want to be promoted you have to speak up. Be intentional and have a conversation with your senior leaders to make sure they know where you stand and ask them what you need to do to be promotion ready. This HBR article highlights the difference in outcomes between someone who was hopeful about getting the promotion and someone that directly asked for the promotion. The article makes it clear, those that ask for the promotion are often more favorably thought of by leadership when deciding on promotions. While this article is about two men, women need to hear this even more because we are less likely to speak up in the work place. The evidence is in, closed mouths don’t get fed.
Hope you find these tips helpful in setting your performance goals in the workplace. And remember to read our post on vision boards to make sure you keep your professional goals aligned with all other aspects of your life.