What is stopping you from taking the first step towards a lasting solution that will effect positive change in your life?
This is the question that started me thinking about how a person would make a lasting change in their lives through the goals they set for themselves. The idea of using the word GOALS as an acronym came about as I thought about growth, opportunity, ability and learning and how it all makes the outcome of the goal sustainable.
The idea of designing a growth goal came from the Growth mindset concept which was coined and studied by Stanford University psychologist Carolyn Dweck, Ph.D. Growth mindset “refers to a person’s belief in his or her own ability to learn and develop skills, regardless of natural ability, through determination and hard work. It is the belief that a person’s capacities and talents can be improved over time”.
I also wondered how many of us miss opportunities that would help us achieve our goals because we don’t have a clear picture of the objectives of the goal. Many of us procrastinate from taking the first step because we don’t have the confidence in our ability and/or capability and yet if we realized that we already have the ability and the resources to get started, we would want to take the first step.
Reacting on what we could and would learn on the journey towards accomplishing the goal helps us to develop and enables us to share our learning with others.
Lasting solutions are reached through small doable pieces of work. Taking a moment to celebrate these small wins helps a person stay motivated to persevere until the goal is accomplished. It may also provide the opportunity to recognize that they may need to change direction slightly because something isn’t working the way they planned. These small moments do not overwhelm us and derail us from accomplishing the goal.
And so, the G.O.A.L.S framework was developed, and I would like to share it as a simple thought-provoking approach for anyone who may find it useful.
An Applicable Framework
Using it within an organization it can be easily adapted with bespoke questions and applied with other performance tools that the organization uses. HR and team managers can use the framework to gain valuable information to enable them to support and sustain employee growth and development within the organization.
As an example, the approach could be coupled with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) which would help teams and individuals set great goals and achieve the lasting change they are hoping for.
OKRs – Objectives and Key Results (as referenced from the book “Measure what Matters” by John Doerr)
● An Objective is the “What”: What is to be accomplished? An objective should be significant, action oriented and add value to the company, team and individual. Designing and deploying the objective gives clear direction towards achieving the goal.
● Key Results are the“How”: How will you accomplish the objective? Key Results are specific and time-bound, realistic, and measurable. Key results evolve as work progresses. Once the key results are all completed, the objective has been achieved.
Using the G.O.A.L.S FRAMEWORK (Growth. Opportunity. Ability. Learning. Sustainability), consider how you could apply the growth and future-focused mindset to ask the relevant questions within the OKRs structure. Not only is the organization measuring key results; they are also measuring growth and development of their employees, towards sustainable change.
Growth Goal: With a future focused and growth mindset consider what changes you would like to see in your personal and/or professional life because of the goal you have set. Think about the benefits these changes may bring and the difference these benefits would make to your personal and/or professional life.
● What Goal would you like to achieve in x months that will stretch you and test your limits?
Growth and comfort do not co-exist.
Objective Opportunity: Objectively explore the milestones and ask yourself what opportunities could help you to attain the desired outcome of the goal.
These milestones may give you an idea of the opportunities that you could seek, see, and seize.
● What possible opportunities could enable and support you in your growth?
Actionable Ability: Taking accountability and ownership for achieving the goal, acknowledge your talents, your education, the skills you have acquired and the experience you have gained and start to design your first actionable steps. Think about what other resources (skills, money, people, accountability) may support you in attaining this goal. Be open to learning new skills and to improving existing skills.
● What skills or capabilities do you have that will help you achieve these milestones?
● What skills or capabilities would you like to develop?
Life-long Learning: Towards continuous personal growth and development.
Consider what learning experience might be beneficial to you and your team. Lasting solutions invite life-changing learning. Discover the learning along the way by curiously reflecting on what you have learned about yourself through improving your skills, acquiring new skills, and gaining fresh perspective.
● What do you hope to learn that will make a positive difference to you and to those you work with?
Nothing is ever lost in life but so much is gained through the learning.
Sustainable Success: Measures of success transform who you are and the way you work. Small sustainable steps make for big changes as they develop lasting solutions. Design small attainable steps that could bring about the desired outcome of the goal. Continuously reassess to trigger further action until the objectives and, finally, the goal has been accomplished. Celebrate the positive changes achieved at each small step to encourage continuity towards a sustainable life-changing habit.
● What would be small measurable steps towards accomplishing the desired outcome of the growth goal?
A Working Example and the Benefits
HR could initiate annual Development Plans where individual employees design their own goals that would grow them as a person within their role in the organization. These survey questions can be designed so that they also align tothe organization’s values and goals.
- A simple survey using future focused questions guided by the G.O.A.L.S. framework could be designed and sent to each employee. Or the framework could be used by the team manager to guide the coaching conversation with the employee when discussing performance outcomes.
- Together, team manager and employee explore the goal that the employee created to ensure it aligns to the organization’s needs and the team’s needs, while also providing the growth the employee desires.
- They discuss the opportunities that could present themselves that would help the employee accomplish their goal. It allows them both to look out for these opportunities.
- They discuss what skills and experience the employee has already so they can get started while also identifying the skills they may require enabling them to accomplish the goal. They both get to know what learning opportunities and courses would be helpful.
- The team manager and employee agree on the measures of success so that every month or every quarter they can measure progress. The cadence of these measures of success can be agreed between team manager and employee.
- Depending on the agreed cadence, send a simple work performance survey (OKRs) that includes a few questions from the G.O.A.L.S framework to measure the progress of the employee’s development plan.
The data obtained from these performance reviews and the employee development plans provides a depth of information for the employee and the team manager to have the much-needed conversation. The coaching approach to the whole process provides a safe environment for these sometimes difficult conversations to take place in a way that is beneficial and constructive. It provides the opportunity for both parties to explore growth and performance of the employee at the same time. This coach-like approach goes a long way towards the motivation and engagement of employees in the workplace.
It is in the simplicity of the design that there are lasting outcomes as this framework can be easily adapted and changed to ensure that it is always relevant and provides continuous learning for the employees and the teams.
HR, team managers and employees would do well to remember to apply the 3 D’s to lasting solutions: Dedication. Discipline. Determination.
Find out about building a future ready coaching culture in your company and download Building Strong Coaching Cultures for the Future, a 2019 study from the International Coaching Federation and the Human Capital Institute (HCI).
Debra Thurtell is an ICF Professional certified Coach (PCC). Her working experience spans across the medical profession, organizational world of finance, administration, human resources and leadership. She started coaching back in 2009 as an internal coach and later in 2018 decided to start her own coaching practice “SIMPLY going beyond”.
She is passionate about introducing coaching as a way of working within organizations and a way of being, both in the professional and personal lives of people.
One of her heartfelt concerns and passions is taking care of the Caregivers extending from NPO organizations to all organizations, especially leaders, HR personnel and managers.
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