When it isn’t working

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Have you ever tried to achieve a task and failed? What do you do when it isn’t working? Do you feel frustrated when you do not reach your goal? Is it something wrong with your goal? Should you settle with a C paper when you can get an A? How can you manage to reach your goal, when you have failed and failed again?

Confucius was a wise man and one quote that I do love is this one “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

There is a lot true here, there is no reason to adjust the goals if you set them too high. As long as you are making progress you will be able to get a little bit closer all the time. But I do not want this article to be to wishy-washy and just throw you a saying without any tools on how to live according to this saying.

Long term goals vs short term goal

Is there coinheritance between your long term goals and your short term goals? Your long term goals should be your destination, your short term goals is directions to get you forward. Do not work with goals short term or long term unless you are able to align your path (short term) with your destination (long term).

Short term evaluation

I use short term goals as day to day goals to reach all our goals for the week. I use weekly goals to adjust for the month and so on. I evaluate several times at work to reach our daily goals before 4 pm. We start by evaluating at 10 am. Are we on our way to reach our goals? Are we falling behind? Should I prioritize differently? Are we managing just fine, or do I need help? What is my goal? What is the current status and how do I get there? We do not change the goals, but like Confucius’ saying, we adjust our actions.

Long term evaluation

Since I work at a call center the long term goals might only be a month. The length is not important, but breaking it down to short term goals is essential. For me it is to evaluate the week to adjust for next week to make sure that the result for the month is good, and month by month to reach the goals for the quarterly reports. If you fall behind one week you need to do equally better the next week, so you need to keep track, because if you fall behind just reaching your goals will not be enough, you will need to do better to compensate for the previous loss.

When do you evaluate?

Some people tend to evaluate after the finish line is passed. This is too late, and here is the key to live like Confucius say; evaluate several times during the run and pace your speed accordingly. The way we do it is by using a whiteboard with the current status at 8 am; we set our goals for 4 pm and have our first pow wow at 10 am. We write the current status on the whiteboard for all our different goals and we decide what to do next. What goals are doing fine, which are falling behind? What do we now need to do? And then we adjust, or try to adjust. When more people are the key, we are not able to clone, but at least we will ask other departments for help if necessary. We have a smaller dialogue at 12, and one last at 2 pm and if necessary one more at 3 pm. We reallocate resources and we try to do what it takes.

And what if you still fail?

An essential part of evaluation is to analyze, did we do great or did we fail? Why did we fail? Not enough people? Not enough effort among the people at work? Are the goals to difficult? (No, never… remember Confucius?) The sweet deal here is that you will most likely figure out why you failed. And the answer to why is what, so what can you do about it? If you fail to recognize this what, and still do what you use to you are working by habit. Embrace the answer to why and what and work with this systematically. This is your obligation as a leader to work with systematically. And if you do there is “not if you reach your goals”, it is “when”.

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