Your Strategy And Goals Will Fail Without This…

The endless march

On the back of a number of coaching sessions last week, I thought I’d kick a topic up that never goes away but can be crushingly painful.

A few months ago we built a pretty schmick (I’m biased) goals and habits tracker that our coaching clients use. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive… but there’s a problem.

No matter how many coaching clients we work with, more often than not there is a breaking point where the work stops / the process gets stuck.

What most people don’t notice is this sticking point is the same place strategic planning breaks down.

Venture a guess where that is?

Remember the ‘M’ in SMARTER Goals?

Ah yes, SMARTER goals. Those goals which are focused and well defined. Those who’ve used that process will remember the ‘M’ stands for Measurable. That means there has to be a way to measure it, and in most cases, this should be a metric.

If you don’t think it matters, revisit your goals in three months. In most cases (90% by my experience), you won’t be much closer to that goal you set because you won’t have the clarity of direction. Missing a measurement (how we measure) and goal metric (the target of that measure) ALSO means you’re likely to let yourself off the hook for missing it.

A prime example could be a weight loss goal (something notoriously difficult). If I say “I want to lose weight”, then chances are I will still want to lose weight 3 months from now. I might have lost weight but felt like it wasn’t enough or I might not have but I didn’t have an agreed amount so I felt like it was too hard. If I said “I’m going to lose 5 kgs and will weigh myself each week till I do via the bathroom scale” then I am less likely to feel disenfranchised and have removed one of the critical barriers to change: the clarity of measurement.

In both strategic planning and coaching goal setting, people are great at listing goals, defining the behaviours that get in the way and even considering alternative options. Where they fall flat is in one of two spaces:

  1. Setting a measurement
  2. Committing to a metric

Those two things might sound similar, but they are two distinctly different challenges.

1. Setting a measurement is usually blocked by a lack of clarity on:

  1. What it means to achieve that goal
  2. How we will know if we’ve achieved that goal
  3. Why we want to achieve that goal

2. Committing to a metric is usually blocked by:

  1. Concern about failing if we list a specific metric
  2. What habits we will really have to change to achieve that metric
  3. What changes might be required to measure that metric
  4. What life will really look like if we achieve that metric (vs saying we want to achieve it)

Solving the problem

Whether it’s in a room with executives setting the strategic objectives or in one on one coaching with a kick@ss leader, treating 1 and 2 looks very different.

If you’re stuck on 1. Setting a measurement, you can move the needle for you/your team by:

  1. Understanding how critical this really is to you and the team. If it doesn’t matter, why the h3ll are we committing to it? Get it off the plan and move on.
  2. Focusing on the right “event”. If we aren’t sure how to measure achieving it, we have to get clear. If you stop running when you hit the 5k mark only to find out that you actually entered an oddly staged triathlon, then you are cooked. You’ll be fatigued, underprepared and disenfranchised. Get clear on what you’re measuring.

If you’re stuck on 2. Committing to a metric, you can move the needle for you/your team by:

  1. Embracing the chance of failure. If we’re afraid to fail, we won’t get too much done to be honest. People know that, but when it comes to putting a metric to paper, we avoid it. There’s a fear of getting it wrong, but if you’ve been through the process long enough you know that iteration > perfection. Don’t let fear knock you off your game.
  2. Having a change plan. It’s pretty rare to achieve a metric that’s a real stretch without some form of change. Instead of avoiding it, come up with a change plan and define the habits that you’ll need you/your team to have to get you there.
  3. Knowing what you’re targeting. Once you know what metric you’re targeting, measurement becomes easier. If you don’t have a good leading indicator, use a lagging one till you do.
  4. Painting the vision for the future. If you and the team smash the goal and hit that metric what will life around here look like? Clarity of vision breeds clarity of focus.

The aim of this is post was to get you to commit to using measurements and metrics for your goals and strategic planning. Get it clear then report on it weekly (if not at least fortnightly). I’m sure your check-in 3 months from now will be dramatically different if you do 🙂

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