How To Set Smart Goals At Work To Get What You Really Want

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happy woman at home with laptop

It’s 2021 and it’s still a virtual world. How are you doing at work? What are your work goals?

We’re all stuck online. Yet, we all have hope.

Still, the ambiguity of the current pandemic leaves us unable to plan for anything except more virtual work (more sweatpants), less travel (lower gas prices), fewer in-person gatherings (fewer hugs), and more homeschooling (teachers need a flippin' raise!).

My line of work suits me, virtual or in-person, and I’ve worked in organizations that flourished under great leadership and those that started to rot due to toxic leaders.

Leadership matters at every level.

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How do you set work goals so you can get what you really want?

If you're a leader who often feels stuck on issues, do you want more or better? This question helps people think in a unique way, so they can reframe how they look at things.

In a recent poll I ran on LinkedIn, the preferred response was: "Both!"

The "more or better" question is contextual.

"More clients or better clients" depends upon your business model.

"More toilet paper or better toilet paper." (Only 2020 would make this a feasible example.)

"More virtual meetings or better virtual meetings." We can all agree on "better."

More vs. Better = Quantity vs. Quality.

The answer will always depend upon the context. What if the context was how you are doing at work?

Why is this question helpful? First, it helps your brain start to calibrate what you really want — or don’t want. Clarity is a great place to start.

Steve Jobs once said, "Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles." Baseball fans will agree.

But, let’s say you run a car wash — more cars at a set price may always be more desirable than one car that wants every service.

Context is key to recognizing your clarity.

When you want to know how you are valued at work — that’s contextual, too.

Second, it provides you the opportunity to consider what to be grateful for, by the sheer acknowledgment of what you already have before adding to it.

For example, the best hiring strategy is to have a high quantity of qualified candidates. Thus, you first need to value the current talent you do have that is producing quality work.

Even if you want more hires of the same caliber, you must look at the quality you appreciate first and strive for quantity second.

And learning about how you're doing at work and if you can achieve your work goals, you need quality information, first.

Looking at this New Year, it’s easy to see how you may jump at the chance to have more in-person interactions (quantity).

Yet, it’s understandable when we all stop and acknowledge that we prefer better in-person experiences with the people we know (quality).

It’s still a virtual world. Thus, you need to gain insight into how you are perceived at work: How you are seen, heard, and valued.

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To feel seen, heard, and valued, you must take unique actions.

You must step into conversations to gain information about yourself. And, yes, this includes executives who have no real upper management that oversee their daily efforts.

Seen: Since you're hidden behind a computer screen, it feels impossible to know if anyone "sees" your contributions.

Heard: Unless specifically asked in an email or during a virtual meeting or conference call, the increased feelings of invisibility are climbing, because no one is "hearing" you speak about your work.

Valued: Unless you're gaining compliments, shout-outs, or positive feedback in writing or in public, you have no way of knowing if what you produce is even "valued."

To ease the burden of gaining this information, here are 3 things to include in a conversation that will help.

1. Establish context.

Whether asking about yourself or offering information to another — always establish the context of your conversation — even if it’s a brief one. This sets both people up for success.

For example, "Carole, I’d like to talk about the data you presented in the meeting this morning."

2. Culminate everything into one thing.

When asking or providing information, always culminate what is needed into one thing — it helps the brain focus.

For example, "What was the most important data points you feel contribute to our project?"

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3. Provide an example.

And finally, always ask for an example of how the other person sees the situation. Provides a new perspective you wouldn’t attain on your own.

For example, "Can you provide me an example of how you see that particular data being more relevant than the others?"

This framework works on many fronts.

How can this apply to you? You can always ask to gain insights about your own work, leadership, or you can provide information to another.

And it can be as short and sweet as: "Carole, I’d love to ask a question about my leadership. What is the most helpful thing you see me providing our team during this project? Can you share an example of the most recent time you’ve witnessed that?"

And the added bonus is that by using context, you set the other person up to feel more successful in the conversation, and they feel seen by this one, simple nuance.

By asking or providing one thing to concentrate upon, you have included the other person in the conversation — and they feel heard.

Lastly, by asking for an example, you are asking to see the world through their eyes, and they feel valued.

Not only can you gain information about yourself so that you feel seen, heard, and valued, but you're also providing the same service to another. Win-Win!

So, more or better?

Given the context of what you want this year to provide for you — especially at work and in your life — you need to go, after receiving more information.

Specifically, you need to seek better information about how you're doing in the job you've chosen to work in — virtual or otherwise.

You and your job will determine what you need to hear.

When asking other professionals whether they preferred more or better — it’s easy to see why many said both.

So, in the spirit of the New Year, which comes first for you? More or better?

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Carole Stizza is an Executive Coach and speaker who connects leaders to their teams for increased trust, innovation, higher retention, and greater success and influence. Receive a complimentary copy of The ASK Framework™ and visit her website for more information.

This article was originally published at Relevant-Insight. Reprinted with permission from the author.