EPMEPM: Productivity

2016: Ready, Set, Goal!

A NEW YEAR always brings new promise along with a desire for success. High achieving PM professionals Michelle Delaney and Hannah Gill take a look the best way to set and achieve business and personal goals for 2016.

If you uncover the true definition of the word ‘goal’, you’ll find that it’s ‘an observable and measurable result which is linked to the objectives that a business wants to achieve inside a given time frame’.

Of course, you can’t truly achieve your business goals without first having a plan; the two go hand in hand. Plans and goals make up the DNA of the strategic planning process. Looking at Figure 1, you can see how planning and goal-setting fit together across the different managerial levels of a business.

Planning leads to goal attainment and ultimately to the overall effectiveness and performance of the business, the departments and all team members.

While having clear goals increases performance, they also help clarify expectations. Clear goals provide team members with a clear understanding of the desired outcomes for the business. Without goals, members of the team can lack direction and this has a major impact on the business overall; people don’t know what they have to achieve, when they must achieve it by or why it is important. Even though everyone might be working hard, collectively they will accomplish little. Think about it this way: if the team were rowing a boat and pulling in opposite directions, they would achieve little result and certainly no real progress.

Goals also play another critical role in a business: they increase motivation. When individuals and teams meet their goals, they feel a sense of accomplishment, a pride in knowing that their achievements have produced real results and benefits for all.

Achieving success will depend on how well you plan in the early stages. Research shows that adopting the SMART framework (see over page) that will lead you to success.

A key component in this area is that we must truly understand how goals and people work together. Yes, goals will facilitate performance, but only when the right components come together. You must ensure that a person tasked with a specific goal has the right skills, knowledge and ability to complete it. You simply cannot expect someone without the required skills to achieve a successful outcome.

Providing feedback and opportunities for people to ask questions during the process is important; this enables people to gain a clearer understanding of the desired result while reassuring them they are supported. If your team members are simply left to try and figure things out alone, they will become demotivated and less likely to engage. Quite often they will just give up.

Part of the journey is known as ‘goal commitment’. This is a person’s attachment to or determination to reach the goal. When people believe that they can reach their goals and are provided with the training, support, guidance and recognition to help them toward the achievement, they become empowered in the whole process. This leads not only to a final successful outcome, but also gives the whole team or individual member a sense of accomplishment and personal pride in a job well done.

Setting goals will provide a business with many benefits. When people have a goal, they have a sense of purpose. This leads to an increase in motivation, productivity and morale. When your people feel that the tasks they are completing and their actions make a difference within the company, they want be a part of your future success.

Now is the time to turn your mind to making next year your best yet. No one plans to fail, but many of us fail to plan, and setting goals is actually easier than you may think.

The process shouldn’t be overwhelming; rather, it’s an exciting opportunity for you to challenge, motivate and hold yourself accountable.
Here are my five tips.

  1. Keep it simple: This isn’t news, but it’s vitally important when you’re setting goals. The last thing you need is complicated objectives that take a lot of time to track.
  2. Be accountable: By setting goals you’re implying that you will see them through. Sounds simple, right? In theory, yes; but when you have an awesome (or terrible) month you can very quickly lose sight of the little things that make the big things happen. Making excuses is easy, but in the end you’re only letting yourself down.
  3. Success leaves clues: If you’re not sure where to start, talk to someone who is achieving the success you’re striving for. Successful people are usually happy to share their knowledge and time. Seek them out, ask lots of questions and then put their advice into practice.
  4. Allow time for planning: New Year’s resolutions are great, but they’re often made in late December once you’ve consumed a few too many beverages and eaten your body weight in food.
  5. Use the SMART framework: Start planning for next year right now. Good planning takes time and requires review, so block out enough time to plan before the holiday haze takes over.

Most importantly, once you have a plan for the year write down your goals! This significantly increases the likelihood of achieving them. Sharing your goals with others is also great for feedback and accountability.

I like to include a mix of goals in my yearly plan, which incorporates my work life, personal life, health and wellbeing. This keeps me focused and ensures I give enough time and energy to the important areas in my life.

Ensure you include your own professional development as well as client-focused and growth goals.
Depending on your job role, you might include:

  • Property listings
  • Contacts added to your database
  • Prospecting calls
  • Renewals of tenancies
  • Commission rates

For your own professional development, you might include:

  • Completing a specific diploma or certificate
  • A reading or audio book plan
  • Writing a blog
  • Seeking out advice or mentoring someone else
  • Featuring in Elite Property Manager

There is no right or wrong here. Figure out what makes you tick and work towards making your goals a reality.

These simple techniques will help get those great ideas out of your head and onto paper.

1,3,5 Lists: I love the 1, 3, 5 list for its simplicity. You set a total of nine goals: five should be ‘easy’, three should take more work, and the last one is a longer-term, more difficult goal. Start working on achieving the first five as they are the easiest. Once you achieve these, the next three don’t seem so hard. So in theory, when you get to the big one, you’ve already had lots of practice at achieving goals.

Planning calendars: A yearly planner is a great option for a quick one-page reference! Put it on the wall beside your desk, colour-code different categories (work, personal and so on) and track your progress through the weeks and months.

Vision boards: These are a fun way to compile goals, but they often lack the specifics of SMART To increase your likelihood of success, include information that supports deadlines and objectives.

Personal business plan: Writing your own business plan allows you to delve into your business (whether you’re a PM, BDM or principal) and plan the year ahead in detail.

It doesn’t matter which option you use; just pick what works for you.

You have to want to succeed and achieve your goals, and this in itself suggests you are passionate and motivated. That’s good news, because life is short and it’s important that we love what we do.

I find regular reviews help keep me accountable and I will go the extra step – or mile – to ensure I achieve my goals.

And hey, don’t let anyone bring you down! There will be times you don’t achieve your goals, but there will be more times when people tell you that you won’t achieve them. In the wise words of Steve Jobs, “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” So don’t give up, and celebrate when you succeed!

I want to summarise by sharing with you a simple mantra that I love and live by: dream big, work hard and stay humble.

May 2016 be your best year yet!

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