Goal setting

2 minute read

End of year. Goal setting season is upon us.
A lot of people see this as little more than a box-ticking exercise, but don’t fall into this trap. Goal setting season is a great oppotunity to sit down and assess your career. Think about where you are currently on your career progression, and more importantly, where you would like to be in the future. Your goal achievements should help you to advance to the next step on the roadmap.

Perhaps you’re a senior engineer who is looking to become a tech lead, or maybe you would like to transition onto the managerial track. This is the time to take stock and to pair with your manager to identify how best to achieve those goals. Are you ready yet? Do you need to attain some new skills to be ready? Perhaps there are opportunities to dip your toes into the next stage. Would mentoring a more junior engineer give you a feel for being responsible for people?

Sidenote: If you are hoping to get promoted, then it’s a good idea to shape the responsibilities of the desired role as goals. Remember that organisations expect you to be performing some of the responsibilities of the next rung up to avoid the ‘Peter Principle’, and by successfully demonstating ability, you are setting up for for success.

Anyway, back to goals.

Business goals

The way I approach this process, from a manager’s point of view, is to first familiarize myself with the business goals for the upcoming 12 months. Often these will be quite high-level, but they should be driving your epics roadmap for the year.
Once assertained and familiarized, I then begin to look at what the team needs to achieve to help the business accomplish those goals. Next, looking at the part that each team-member will play during the process.

At the point, you will then want to sit down with your reports individually and marry up the goals of the person with the goals of the team/business. Using the shared business goals for context is extremely useful with determining which objectives may be out of scope, or unrealistic to attain within the year. Moreover, it helps to provide focus, and also illustrates the larger context to the individual on how their work contributes to the overall objectives of the business.

Ideally, goals should be SMART and staggered throughout the year. Sprinkling deliverables every quarter allows you to celebrate the successes at the quarterly check-ins, and to catch any problems early on.

Personal development goals

How would you like to personally develop and enhance over the next year?

It can be useful to start thinking about some existing skills that you would like to improve upon, or new skills that you would like to learn. A reflective look at aspects of work that you found uncomfortable or difficult can unearth some areas that you can build upon.

  • Do you dread presenting to your peers?
  • Is there an area of the job that you find difficult?
  • Would you like to become more social?

Sometimes it helps to identify some traits and characteristics of the people you admire. Maybe you had a colleague who could estimate and plan work with precision, or the manager who seems to able to communicate across departments with impeccable clarity. Use those characteristics and traits to idenfity skills that you would like to hone, then set yourself some specific tasks to go about achieving that.

Again, goals need to be SMART, and peppered throughout the year to foster continuous improvement and development