Workplace Goals: the Art of Not Setting Yourself Up to Fail

5th December 2019

We live in ever changing times: the multiple impacts of technological change, Brexit, fashions, and of course yet another general election to prod and provoke the British people.  But what does not change is the cycle of the year.  And as we rapidly approach the end of another, we start to contemplate what 2020 may bring us and how we can bring about positive change in the workplace in spite of everything else.

Whether we run our own business or are employed, the setting of occupational goals is always important.  Let’s consider first an entrepreneurial perspective.  New Year brings the start of the annual sales cycle, and in order to drive our enterprise forward, we set ourselves sales targets for the forthcoming year.

In sales, unfortunately, you can’t just wave a magic wand and expect to achieve ambitious sales targets.  Achieving demanding sales goals requires hard work and a perpetual balance between ambition and realism.  It’s important to constantly review what and how you are doing, and be brave to step outside your comfort zone.  Are your goals SMART?  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time based?

It’s very easy to set a vague goal, for example, “We want to find new clients from the finance sector.” Make it SMART by specifying: how many new clients?  From which part of the finance sector?  By when? And then, what steps do you need to put in place to achieve that goal?  And also a degree of honest reflection: is that goal achievable, recognising that fine line between pipe dream and pipe line.  A goal which isn’t achievable is simply demoralising for those trying to achieve it.

Think about the things you can do to bring about the positive change towards meeting those goals.  Challenge yourself to increase the number of new leads you approach each week, book and attend more meetings each week, increase the number of proposals/quotes you send out, and follow them up more tenaciously.

And what about those of you who are employed by someone else?  Setting your targets may relate to your role, but seems so much more focused on someone else’s business.  This might be the time to renew your sense of purpose in the workplace.  The start of the year is a great time to refresh and re-energise.  Many of us consider a new year’s resolution, but according to a recent American study, just 8% of us achieve our new year’s goals, while 80% of us fail to keep our resolutions, many falling off this particular bandwagon before the long dark month of January is even out.  If you are fortunate to be thriving in your job, now is the time to consider some steps to ensure you keep it that way.  Don’t let the grass grow under your feet: consider learning a new job relevant skill, or perhaps taking on some additional responsibilities in the workplace.

The bigger challenge comes for those who feel unsettled at best, desperate to find alternative employment at worst.  Take a long hard look at yourself and your work.  Although sometimes difficult to identify, there will be aspects of your current role you enjoy, even if the parts of your role you dislike are more obvious to you.  Identify the good, and take some time to think critically about how you can harness the positive aspects and move them into a new role.  Maybe you will need to take some steps along the way before you can say you reach your employment goal.  This may include some upskilling and training, perhaps even qualifications.  It will almost certainly include thinking about how you can change the employment narrative – so your next prospective employer will be able to understand your workplace story, what has brought you to this place and what you will bring to their workplace that meets their organisational needs.

Help is at hand.  Do seek information, advice and guidance from experts who can really help you focus.  Work Avenue offers focused and informative employment workshops, together with tailored one to one advice on a range of topics including building a contemporary and elegant CV, how to harness the power of your transferable skills and how to use the interview to maximum effect.  Make this a New Year full of positive change.