Tag Archives: goal

Hanging Out the Target

“So, if morale suddenly improved as the speed of the line improved, what do you think changed? What changed inside their heads?” I asked. Emily and I were talking about her production line’s sudden improvement in both speed and attitude. She mulled the question over.

“Remember, before, we were talking about competence and incompetence,” she was thinking out loud. “I didn’t believe you when you said the problem was incompetence. But now, I see such an improvement, I think you were right.”

“So, what changed inside their heads?” I asked again.

“Before, they didn’t know the daily target number. That single number became a tool for them to get better. They became more competent.”

“They are on their way to mastery,” I said. That word mastery hung out there like a full moon. Inescapable.

“I never thought of it that way.”

“Put the two together.”

Competence and mastery,” she said.

“Why do people perform at a high level?” I asked.

“Because they can,” she replied. “Give them the tools to become competent and you will see progress.” Emily smiled. It was beginning to sink in.

“At least, that is half the story,” I announced.

“There’s more?” Emily asked.

Without a Deadline

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
What happens if someone isn’t focused on a timeline? We have a number of people who need to be strategic and who need to maintain a number of balls (projects) in the air, but those projects tend to focus on a “perfect outcome” without a time-frame.

Response:
One of the biggest mistakes managers make, is assigning tasks without a deadline. Lots of chocolate messes start out this way. All projects have a deadline, whether stated or not.

  • The manager thinks “by Friday,” the team member thinks by “next month.”
  • The manager thinks this task has priority over all other tasks. The team member thinks this task has second priority over all other tasks.
  • The manager expects to see a draft plan by Friday. The team member hasn’t heard from the manager by Thursday, so stops working on the task, thinking it is no longer important.

A task (goal, objective, project) is not a “WHAT.” It’s a “WHAT, BY WHEN.”

His ASAP, Your ASAP

Sondra finished her project over the weekend.

“Last week, you assigned this task to Dale, but you ended up doing it,” I observed. I could tell she was very pleased with the project result, but miffed that she spent the weekend working when Dale had all of last week to work on it.

“I thought a lot about what you said about being more explicit about my deadline. Next time, I will try to remember that,” Sondra replied.

“More than that, the target completion time is essential to the task assignment. Dale gets all kinds of assignments. To complete them, he has to use his own discretion, primarily about pace and quality. Most of the decisions he makes are about pace and quality. Without a target completion time, he has no frame of reference in which to make his decisions. His ASAP will ALWAYS be different than your ASAP. ASAP is not a target completion time.”

Sondra smiled. I took a look at her project. It was really very good. She will make her client meeting today and life will go on.

Who Is Accountable for the Goal?

“Our goal, their goal? What’s the difference?” Brent retorted.

“The difference is your relationship with the team, their relationship with you and your understanding of who is accountable,” I replied. “When they don’t meet your goal and you come down on them, how do you think they feel? What is their attitude toward you?”

“They know I am disappointed in them.”

“No, they get pissed at you.”

“Pissed at me?” Brent sat back. “I am not the one who is supposed to be selling, they are.”

“You are right. As the leader, I expect you to devote full attention to the management of this sales force. Which is why they are pissed at you.”

“I still don’t get it. Why are they upset with me?”

“Assuming they are doing their best, and you are still falling short of your goal, who is the only one who can hire more salespeople? Who is the only one who can schedule overtime? Who is the only one who change the assignment of leads? Who is the only one who can change their collateral literature? Who is the only one who can set selling margins?”

Brent was silent, then finally spoke, “That would be me.”