Do You Know What Your people (Are Supposed to) Do?

What kind of people do you have below you that you made decisions on or have influence over? I’m not talking about introverts vs. extroverts, but rather skillsets. This is an age old question. Do you really know what your people do? Sounds like a potentially silly question, but it is very real, and is a problem in Corporate America these days. Think of it this way, you are giving your personnel evaluations for the year (hopefully not for the first time since LAST year) and you have to tell them how they are doing. Sure, you can tell if they’ve accomplished what you told them to accomplish, but … let’s forget the evaluations, let’s take a step further back for just a minute back to goal setting. Let’s paint for just a minute . . . .

If you remember, you sat down a little over a year ago and started to sketch out goals for every one of your employees. You know most of them fairly well but you may only have your own, limited knowledge of what their job descriptions actually mean. You don’t pay much attention, though as you know what your peers say each of the job descriptions mean to them so you go with it. As you map out your team’s goals, you feel confident that they are going to succeed and also be a great contributer to the company’s bottom line.

Fast Forward >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> You are back at your evaluations, and even though your direct reports may have “succeeded” they aren’t truly excited about what you have to say and you, yourself, find something just a bit off. It almost feels like . . . you both actually lost! Time to dig in a little.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Rewind a little more – even before you did your goal setting, and go back to your hiring process. Let's take a look at what you could have done, perhaps from the very beginning:

As you are working on your staffing plan (you do have a staffing plan, right?) jot down all of the employee types you are going to have under your direction. If you are inheriting a team, you need to do this retroactively. Now that you have your list, go do some research yourself. Don't call your buddy at your last job and ask him what he thinks each function serves – chances are, he's doing it wrong! Do some research yourself and find out what the industry standard is for that position. Look into professional organizations and what they say about the position. Only then, can you do yourself, your company, and your employee a service as you will hire the right person.

So, let's go back to the present. What do you really know about what your people do? Let's look at project managers. This is a title that has many different meanings to many different people. I know what it means to be a PM according to PMI. I have a good understanding of the industry and know what "industry standard" processes are but I am not sure that everyone in my industry does. I once heard someone say "I am a PM, I don't plan things. I get things done, I don't have time to plan." OUCH I wonder how much additional cost was involved in THAT project??? The truth is, that PMs are truly planners, not "doers". If you, as the leader of that PM resource understand that, you are setting that PM up to win and the company to win, and ultimately yourself to win.

I challenge you to do your research before you set your goals for the next go-round. If you find that you've had it all wrong, you are now armed with the right information to help make positive change in your organization. Give your employees their goals utilizing this information . . . if they are willing to accept this challenge, you have a winner on your hands. If not . . . well, I'll let you decide what their new job title should be.

By the way, if you want to know why a PM is a planner and not a "doer" I'll be writing on that very soon.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have employees that have a "mystery job" that you might need to get in front of?

Thanks for reading and have a productive day!

–Jim

Goal Setting: 2012

Every year after January 1st, articles pop up on setting goals. Some call it making a new year’s resolution. Whatever you call it, it really is setting goals. This year, of course, is no different. Up until now, I have personally resisted the urges to set out to create a goal or resolution that I won’t stick to. Then, I realized perhaps this is a toxic attitude to have. I asked myself recently what I’ve accomplished by not just setting the bar low, but not setting it at all. Well, the answer is quite simple . . . hardly anything. It is time I stepped up to the plate and set some goals for myself – and you should too! Here are my thoughts:

I look at my goal setting as I would my employees:

  • Relevant
  • Attainable
  • Measurable
  • Controllable (this one is big)

This gets a way from the typical “S.M.A.R.T.” goal setting principles (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) just a bit but has the same basic principle without the cool acronym. I want to make sure that every goal I set follows these four principles, not only for me, but for my employees for the upcoming year. What do they mean?

Relevant: From a managerial standpoint it must fit with the over-all goals of the department, division, and company as a whole. From a personal standpoint, it has to be pertinent to what I’m doing or what I want to accomplish. “Make a one foot diameter rubber-band ball” is not relevant to other, somewhat life altering, goals that I may have, unless I’m shooting for a personal record.

Attainable: Is this goal something that can actually be done in the timeframe given? “Become a rocket scientist” is not an attainable goal for most people in one year’s time. “Learn Java”, however, is.

Measurable: One thing you have to keep in mind is whether or not you can actually track your progress on accomplishing the goal.

Controllable: This is one I’ve heard a lot about lately in setting up tasks for me and my employees alike. I look at my goal and determine if it is something that can be controlled. For example, “get 100 followers” is not something I can control. Sure, I can try to analyze the topics that get more hits than others, but in the end, you have control over that better than I do.

All in all, goal setting really is a big deal, unless you do not want to accomplish anything. It sets the tone for your year and gives you something to work for. If you fail, try again. Be sure to challenge yourself so you can grow.

I hope your new year is happy an prosperous. Happy goal setting!!