2 min read

"Did I set the bar too low?"

Hey everyone –

Last week I asked you all about your biggest struggles in setting goals for your team. This response stuck out to me -- it's something I've struggled with too.

Response from a reader

I completely understand this feeling.

When you can see the big picture and you know how much work there is to do, setting a goal that feels attainable within a specified timeframe might mean it's still short of where you ultimately need to end up. And there's the concern that when we set a goal, the team might work right up to that point and stop when they still have more energy or time to keep going if we had just set the bar a little higher.

But let's pause for a moment here.

If we set a goal that's attainable, in a reasonable timeframe, and our team reaches that goal, isn't that a win in itself? There's always more to do, more to accomplish -- but goal setting is just as much about reaching a destination as it is building the confidence that we can reach the goals we set.

Some people want a huge stretch goal that they have to strive for, and they're still happy if they come in at only 80% of completion because the goal was so aggressive. Some people will feel like a complete failure for not reaching 100%. Same goal target, two different people, and two very different emotional responses to the outcome.

So here's something we've tried in the past:

Set the goal that we can all agree is attainable within the reasonable timeframe, and then decide what we'll do if we reach the goal before time runs out.

This really comes down to trusting your team do the right thing. If you trust them to work hard and give their best this won't be an issue most of the time. They'll let you know they are ready for the next thing and won't sandbag their efforts.

If your team isn't quite functioning with this perspective then there's some deeper stuff to work through and goals aren't really the problem.

Please share more of your struggles and questions about setting goals by replying here – let's keep learning together 🤝.

– Michael

Originally sent as an email to Uptick subscribers on July 20, 2021