Goal monitoring is the part of the process (after goal setting) where we watch over the steps necessary to make the goal happen.
Goal setting isn't a set-it and forget-it activity. It's a process. In the first part of this series, we talked about the work necessary to create and establish good goals. While that's not an easy activity, one could argue it's easier than actually trying to accomplish those goals, which is the focus of the second part in this three-part series.
Goal monitoring is the part of the goals process where we watch over the steps necessary to make the goal happen. A key component in goal monitoring is accountability. If the individuals responsible for accomplishing the goal don't take ownership of it, then goal monitoring becomes a challenge. This doesn't mean the goal won't get completed, but it could mean that the goal isn't completed on time, within budget or at the quality originally expected.
There are four strategies that employees can use to monitor their goals. One big tip is to teach these strategies to employees during onboarding, which will help them be successful.
Strategy 1: Hold Yourself Accountable
This must come first. After creating and committing to a goal, employees must hold themselves accountable for seeing the goal (and any associated tasks) through. We're not necessarily talking about accomplishing the goal at all costs. Sometimes factors out of our control keep us from achieving the end result. Rather, this strategy is about being responsible.
The key to holding ourselves accountable is ownership. If an employee is assigned a task, they need to do it or renegotiate the commitment. Simply ignoring their responsibility is unacceptable.
Strategy 2: Ask a Buddy, Mentor or Coach to Hold You Accountable
This strategy isn't a substitute for the first one. Employees can hold themselves accountable and ask a trusted adviser to hold them accountable as well. This strategy is particularly valuable when the goal includes some tough decisions. Employees might hesitate because there are difficult conversations ahead, and an adviser can remind them to stay focused.
The key to using a trusted adviser in goal monitoring is to give the person permission to push the employee to the edge of their comfort zone. If the adviser is truly trusted, they will know the employee well enough to do this effectively.
Strategy 3: Give Teams the Tools to Hold Each Other Accountable
This dynamic is a little different than strategy No. 2 because sometimes managers and teams do not know each other at the same level as a trusted adviser. Teams can hold themselves accountable, but it should be done in a different manner, preferably in a way that the entire team can agree upon.
The key to teams holding each other accountable is consensus. Each member of the team must agree to hold themselves and others accountable. It's also advisable to provide team members with feedback training to help them communicate effectively.
Strategy 4: Use Technology Appropriately
The good news is that goal setting and monitoring don't have to be manual activities. Never hesitate to use enterprise project planning software, SMART plans or even apps such as Habit List or Done. Find the technology that allows the goal to be broken into smaller steps that can be tracked, then monitor those steps by using reminders and reports.
The keys to using technology to successfully monitor goals are choosing the right tool for the job and setting the goal up correctly in the software. That sounds very administrative, and it is. In the end, though, it should prove worthwhile.
Create the Plan, Then Work the Plan
For individuals and organizations to achieve their goals, they have to first create a relevant goal then regularly monitor that goal. This often takes self-awareness; employees must be able to hold themselves accountable and give others permission to do the same.
Accomplishing the goal isn't the final piece in the goals process, either. In the final part of this series, we'll talk about the ever-important debrief.