GOAL SETTING QUESTIONS DETERMINE THE PATH FORWARD

“A goal without a plan and timeline is just a wish”

DENIS BAKER

We are finally coming to the end of one of the most challenging years of my life! I bet many of you would say the same. 

As I look into the many variable possibilities of 2021, I realize that setting achievable goals is a critical path to achieving success. Many of us feel as if we’re floating in our world, not knowing what will come next. Most of us are hard workers, but maybe we didn’t get where we wanted in 2020, and maybe our attitude has fallen to there is nothing worthwhile.

Regardless of the future, we need to continue our goal-setting activities; whether it is personal or professional, the ability to know where we want to go will give us the skill to pick the right road going in the right direction. However, the way we approach the process determines the outcome. The process of setting goals helps identify where you want to go. By knowing specifically what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. This will enable you to quickly identify distractions that can lead you off course.

To accomplish your goals, you need to know how to clearly write them. You can’t merely say, “I want,” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that requires careful consideration of what you want, the hard to do and ends with the desired outcome. 

In recent years, I have added a phase to my goal-setting process. Not only do I identify what I want to achieve by year’s end, but I now ask questions to define the specific goal I want to achieve.

Here is my new questioning process;

Xwhere you are now, or your current reality
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish line
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish line

EXAMPLES

Let me give you some example to clarify my statement;

When the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) was developed in the 1950s, the original goal was;

“Leading the World in Space Exploration.”

When John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, he changed NASA’s goal to

“Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade is out.”

Let’s put the 1950s NASA goal through the test: “Leading the World in Space Exploration.”

Xwhere are you now, or your current reality?Unknown
Ywhere do you want to go? what will be your finish line?The word “leading” is somewhat vague.  Results undetermined.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish line?Unknown, it doesn’t list any timeline

Now let’s run JFK’s revised goal through the test: “Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade is out.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityEarth
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineMoon—with a safe return to Earth. What will be your finish line? A successful launch, landing, and re-entry.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineDecember 31, 1969.

 Looking at these two tests, which one would answer the questions below?

  1. In which decade would you have wanted to work for NASA? The 50s or the 60s?
  2. In which decade was the goal crystal clear? The 50s or the 60s?

If you focus on JFK’s revised goal, I think you know the right answers.

Let’s look at a more realistic example.

ORIGINAL GOAL – “Improve the onboarding process for new hires.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityUnknown
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineTo improve the process. Results undetermined.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineUnknown, it doesn’t list any timeline

REVISED GOAL – Reduce onboarding time for new hires by 50 percent in quarter two by establishing a detailed onboarding process with at least five training courses and three shadowing opportunities with experienced team members.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityLong onboarding process
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineReduce the time by 50%.  New hire onboarding process that includes 5 courses and three shadowing opportunities with an experienced employee
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineBy the end of the 2nd quarter

Both of these examples provide clear outcomes of asking the right questions to determine the clarity of each goal. 

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

When we have clearly defined goals with expected outcomes and achievement dates, we set the path forward down the chosen road to achieving our vision and desires for the new year.

If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it everytime.”

UNKNOWN

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management and is currently a Director of Health & Safety for a major supply chain organization. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. Denis can be reach by email at; dbaker@leaderinfluence.net to receive more information on improving your leadership and increasing your teams performance.

If you want to increase your leadership influence, subscribe to my blog by providing your email below.

Answering These 4 Questions Will Increase Your Future

“Asking the right questions is as important as answering them.”

BENOIT MANDELBROT

Being a leader in regular times can be a challenge. Being a leader in a crisis can be a complicated challenge. Successful leadership in regular times is hard enough. Trying to figure out what to do during a global crisis is CRAZY!

The best approach to embrace the current situation is to do what is right and ensure you protect your family, friends, and yourself. It also means doing what is necessary to increase your professional efficiency through leadership. But I think the biggest challenge is how we approach the future. Things aren’t going to be the same. 

I like what Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, said,

The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.” 

I believe he is right on. Questions will generate answers, and answers will generate our actions. I think most of us have some frustrations due to the situation; I know I have. You’ve probably have heard more angry voices in your head and in your ears than ever before. Again, I know I have.  

To help reduce your frustrations and to be able to take the stance of a healthy and efficient leader, here are four questions to consider to outline the future.  

What can I change?

Think back to all those things pre-COVID things you wished you could change or stop doing. Maybe you didn’t change them because you didn’t realize you wanted or needed to change. Maye you but didn’t have the commitment, courage, or energy to make it happen. Well, now’s the time. Normal is gone, Now is the perfect time to make new things happen!  

You must figure out what needs to change and how to effectively make the change happen!

How would you approach a new role in these times?

It can be hard to transition into a new role. Old vehicles wouldn’t do well well in new air emission eras. 

I spoke at conferences and events as part of my pre-COVID life. I haven’t spoken at a live event since February 2020. Everything now is virtual. I’ve had to learn to embrace the fact that you can’t walk through the audience and hug people and shake their hands. My daughter and her family moved to Athens, Greece. Since the beginning of February, my wife and I haven’t seen my son-in-law, daughter, or grandkids in person. 

With COVID positives seeing a surge and mandatory quarantines coming back into play in place, I don’t know when speaking in person will come back or when I will be able to see my grandkids.

If you were launching as a speaker right now, how would you approach it? If you had family out of the country, how would you maintain strong relationships?

Once you know the answer to those questions, I think you will understand your new approach and succeed.  

Existing leaders who think differently and embrace change will have a much better future than their counterparts. 

Where does the real momentum lie?

Momentum is the product of the mass and the velocity of an object. Here is a more simpler definition; strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events. It might feel like you have no momentum anywhere, but that won’t be true for most people. (If it is true—the problems are much deeper than a global crisis.) All of us have some kind of momentum going on. Maybe it is different than before, but it is happening.

For example, you might be focused on getting people back in the offices because that’s where you feel you historically had momentum. The concern is, we focus so much on the past that we become fixated on trying to re-manufacture previous situations that we miss the opportunity to look at things differently. A good example is remote workers. Due to being forced to have people work from home, many organizations have found that remote workers are more productive, have a stronger moral, and seem to be a lot happier working from home. Sure, there are challenges, but remote workers can be just as productive or even more productive when given flexibility.

You probably have momentum somewhere. Figure it out. Study it. Determine why that momentum is growing and the benefits and how to maximize it’s potential.

If you want to exceed your goals, fuel what’s growing, not what’s declining.

If you choose to stay where you are, soon, you’re staring out the window watching the future pass you buy.

Can I sustain the pace?

I’m running into so many exhausted and frustrated leaders right now. Look, I’ve been there myself. Most leaders look to mental time off or vacation to reduce frustration and improve energy. I that approach will never give you enough time off to recover from the stress and frustration. I believe time off can revise your energy and reduce stress temporarily. Here is another example. I am a member of my organization’s COVID Sub-Committee. Our fundamental role is to assist our employees in dealing with COVID related issues. I recently took a few days off. When I returned back to the work environment, the stress and frustration beat me there. I believe we need to take time off and continue to build relationships with family and enjoy the life we have, but time off isn’t going to change your unsustainable pace.

You have to consider how you approach and react to each situation, whether temporary or drawn out. Making necessary mental and physical adjustments to create a sustainable pace is the solution! 

I suggest we ask the question, “how can I create a sustainable pace?”  In my personal approach to eliminate burnout, I make constant adjustments to achieve this phrase:

lead today in a way that you will exceed tomorrow.”

Most leaders lead in a way that will make them struggle tomorrow. We all have to work more hours, which affects our diet, reduces our exercise time and our ability to build our relationships. However, our desire is to find a sustainable pace heading to successfully achieve your personal and professional goals during this crisis and beyond.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

Moving forward, ask yourself: what changes can I make to ensure I exceed expectations in this current crisis and beyond? 

Your answers and resultant actions to these 5 questions are critical to your future success. We have to change, and we must maximize our momentum. Think about stopping a train and what effort it takes to get it moving again. The changes we make will determine our ability to lead others through this time of crisis and change.

9 SAFETY CULTURE QUESTIONS WE NEVER THOUGHT WE WOULD HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES

When considering the last few months, if we had been given a glimpse of this crazy year ahead of time, we would have thought the world had gone mad.

I feel It probably has.

There has been a significant change in the safety professional’s approach to influencing the workforce and leadership in safety. For some, organizations have a healthy and sustainable culture indicating that the only need is to reinforce the culture and look for continuous improvement. But for most safety professionals, organizations either; don’t have a safety culture in place yet, or the current culture is not strong enough to sustain a consistent, safe workforce. 

While we can’t approach safety the same we have done in the past, we have to ensure our current safety culture is continuously building up strong through our leadership and employees. 

I recently thought about this and came up with 9 questions I believe we need to focus on to ensure the workforce’s safety in this current situation. 

  1. Do your employees feel comfortable with COVID-19 protocols and procedures put in place?
  2. Is safety still a core value, or is the entire focus on revenue?
  3. Are your employees still stopping work when they feel unsafe? 
  4. Do your employees still feel comfortable approaching their colleagues if there is an unsafe condition or situation? 
  5. Are the employees exhibiting safe behaviors?
  6. Are people managers still engaged in the safety process?  
  7. Is safety integrated into every conversation? 
  8. Are your employees under pressure and more inclined to take shortcuts? 
  9. Is the leadership team thinking differently? 

I encourage you to ask yourself these questions first. Ask your team, the workforce, and leadership what their thoughts are and develop an immediate implementation plan to address the shortcoming or redesign processes. The answers to these questions will determine the plan as we advance. 

Your ability to ask questions will hlp determine the path forward.

“The ability to ask questions is the greatest resource in learning the truth.”

Carl Jung

YOU GOT THE JOB! 7 Questions in 3 Categories to Ask Before You Accept Your Next Job Offer

I recently found myself in the job market. Even though it was somewhat of a shock, I embraced the idea of looking for a new job with excitement and lots of energy. I didn’t know what to expect or what the outcome may be, but I did know if giving the opportunity to meet face to face, I could influence the individual or group that my experience, knowledge, beliefs, and relationship approach to the profession would result in a positive outcome.

Well, there were more roadblocks than I anticipated along my journey (those will be coming in future blogs). However, I did land several offers, all within a week of each other.

Yes, I made it through the most difficult part of the job search. Well maybe not, deciding on what job to accept and if we were willing to move was pretty difficult in its self.

Throughout this process, I think one of the most difficult things to do was ask the right questions. Questions that provided relevant information to make the right choice. I believe I was so excited that I had an offer, much less multiple offers, that my thought was just to pick the one with the highest salary. Flawed thinking. I didn’t have a job, and I needed a job, so why did it matter. Money is the most essential thing in the position, right? Again, flawed thinking. You need to assess and evaluate all offers based on the role, the company, culture, future, benefits, and salary.

As I began looking at my options and trying to decide on what offer was right for me and my family, I realized I made a few critical interview and follow up mistakes. I didn’t get all the information I needed to make a decision based on sound facts and ultimately intuition.

After the decision was made, I read an article in HR Digest that listed practical questions to ask before you accept a job offer. Reading it, made sense and made me realize I fell short in my preparations for choosing the right offer. Now, I am not saying I picked the wrong position. In fact, I love my job, and it offers excellent challenges with exceptional growth opportunities. However, I believe I could have had a much better understanding of the role and those jobs competing with it.

From that article, I narrow down several questions I feel are relevant to the job search process and any impending offer.

When I began to evaluate each offer and looking back, I realized I should have focused on three main areas. I then identified seven questions in each area I feel are important in the interview process and job offer evaluation.

THE ROLE

Interviewing is a two-way street. The employer is offering you the job, and you are providing the talent.

When you ask questions, it shows interest in the company, gives you more information, and makes the conversation flow between you and the interviewer.

  1. How did this position come to be open?
  2. What does success look like in this role?
  3. What would my immediate priorities be?
  4. What are the most significant challenges people face when they start out in this position?
  5. Who will I report to directly?
  6. What are the expectations of this position over the first twelve months?
  7. How would you measure my success, if I were chosen for this role?

These questions would serve multiple purposes. It would give you a brief idea about how well suited you are for the role or the management style. It also lets the company know you’re motivated, passionate and ambitious in life. Moreover, they will open doors to discuss training, what projects you’ll be working on, and whom you would be working with.

SALARY & BENEFITS

  1. Is the pay negotiable?
  2. What is included as a part of your benefits package?
  3. What kind of opportunities exists for personal growth?
  4. What is the bonus structure? Will I be eligible this year? Is the percentage negotiable?
  5. What metrics or goals will I be evaluated against?
  6. How much paid vacation time will I get per year?
  7. Can I carry over the paid vacation time if I don’t utilize it?

These are specific questions you can ask when considering a job offer. It will make it much easier for you to negotiate on your contract before you join the team.

THE COMPANY CULTURE

  1. Where do you see the company in the next five years?
  2. Can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
  3. Would you mind giving me a tour of where this job would take place so I can get a feel of where I’d be working and who I would be working with?
  4. How is work-life balance in the company?
  5. What is the company culture here like?
  6. Would I be able to represent the company at industry events and conferences?
  7. Can I answer any final questions for you?

These are some very good questions to ask before you accept a job offer. It means you’re already thinking about the role you have been offered. You can also find out whether a company is right for you.

It will also help you make a better decision when you’re deciding between multiple offers so you can compare responses.