Goal-Setting is as Easy as 1+3 | HR Fishbowl

It’s that time of year when organizations start to put their people through the (arduous) process of goal-setting. Most of the time this process is based on some convoluted competency framework that tells us the kinds of things we must do in order to be successful. Typically there’s a (long) form involved. And in the off chance someone actually takes the time to fill it out, they do so in cursory fashion. So as you approach the 2011 planning season – whatever it holds for you – I offer this post to you as food-for-thought.

First of all, goal-setting is a business, professional, and personal imperative. Don’t argue this point with me. It just is. And the alternative sucks…one of my favorite quotes on the importance of goal-setting:  “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you…Not Much!” ~Jim Rohn

o.k. now that we got that out of the way…

Not so long ago, I was turned on to an approach to goal-setting which, in its simplicity, is close to perfection . And as a disciple of simplicity, it was hard for me to resist. Venture Capitalist Legend, John Doerr, came up with it and a number of companies he helped found use it (including Google). And if that weren’t enough to peak your interest – yes, that’s right – I use it!  I first caught wind of it thanks to my favorite New York Times regular feature – The Corner Office. It’s called O.K.R. and it only requires that we come up with:

(1) Objective – the one thing (at the highest level) that we must really strive toward achieving in the ensuing period (year, quarter, month…even day)


(3) Key Results – three tangible (and succinct) results that will clearly evidence our achievement of the aforementioned Objective.

As an example,  here’s how it might play out in the HR realm…

O: Enhance [company’s] employment experience through an overt commitment to listening to our constituents, communicating with our people, and simplifying the HR process, technologies, and tools on which they rely.

KR1: Heightened employee empowerment and self-sufficiency (primarily through HRIS self-service functionality)

KR2: Measurable increase in the business units’ solicitation and use of HR’s perspective and counsel toward driving business results

KR3: Positive trend in Employee Affiliation and Engagement Scores, particularly in those areas directly influenced by HR

It fits on a quarter of a page, it’s fewer than 75 words, and it’s something you can sink your teeth into. Everybody keeps it on their desks (or in their wallet) and refers to it often. Implicitly, each of the key results have tentacles and will involve individual plans and actions. But this is all about framing goals in a way people can understand and connect with themand then actually align their efforts with them. As Abraham Lincoln said, “a goal properly set is halfway reached.”

Image Credit: Anthony Theobald, Flickr

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