As a leader, coach, mentor, and manager I have been through many goal and objective meetings.  Through the conversations of helping determine goals for my team there are a few principles that I diligently adhere to:

These are not my goals but yours:

I have yet to complete goals that have been set by others with little or no input from myself.  It is a sad state of affairs when a manager has “determined what is best for the employee”.  When I first started leading a team, I was this manager.  To the detriment of the company I worked for, I alienated my team and made the goal process a wasteful paper drill that eventually ended up in the circular file.  To be fair though, the company instituted a very stringent goal setting process that lacked input from the employee.

Each individual now is responsible for going and providing the first cut of the goals.  I usually ask them to think about them in a S.M.A.R.T. goal format when presenting to me. I have found that this is very hard at the start for my team. However, we are getting better after a couple of iterations.  Below is an example of one of my employees (notice that it is not quite in SMART goal format):

  • Tech skills:
    • jQuery
    • WPF/Silverlight
    • Functional Programming / F#
    • Entity Framework
    • ASP.NET MVC
  • Project-related:
    • Remove a now-redundant middle-tier layer from our application
  • Business/Process:
    • Learn how to develop leadership skills among those with more technical experience
    • Develop an internal tool using new technology
  • Team goal:
    • Revisit and take ownership of the Definition of Done

Develop Goals for the Short Term

I typically ask that goals and objectives last no more than 1 quarter.  I have found this to be a very good time box.  This keeps the goals somewhat fresh in the employees mind.  It also helps to focus on some very specific goal setting.  Within the time period, I ask the individuals to “check-in”.  This allows me to help guide them to with resources and ideas to achieve their goal.

The most successful individual use this “check-in” process.

Defining The End Result

One of the most challenge areas that I face when determining goals for my team, is what the end result looks like. Ideally it is some physical artifact that can be presented or disseminated.  I work to ensure that the knowledge that my employees have gained can be shared.  A lot of times the end result is usually a process improvement within the team (which is usually the best from a business perspective).

This is the refined list from above.  Since the timeline is known (1 quarter), it is not shown as part of the goal.

  1. Pick 5 areas in our application where performance can benefit from doing things client-side using jQuery. 
    • Document the improvements and present them.
  2. Pair with each member of the team once per week. 
    • Observe how the process changes coding styles during this period (3 months).
    • Record the “a-ha” moments.
    • Present your findings.
  3. Research and develop one area of the build process.
    • Develop a custom MS Build script instead of using the Visual Studio Solution Build.
    • Discover online what others are doing but don’t just use their tools.
  4. Team Project: Develop a Virtual Scrum Board using WPF & ClickOnce.

This process gets better each time I sit down with my team.  What process do you use to define goals and objectives for your team?

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