All good performance starts with clear goals. That’s why Spencer Johnson and I made sure that the First Secret of The New One Minute Manager® is One Minute Goals. This is illustrated perfectly in the children’s story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which path she should take. The Cheshire Cat responds, “That depends on where you want to go.” When Alice says she doesn’t know, the smiling cat says, “Then it doesn’t matter.” The same is true in the work environment. If people don’t have a clear understanding of where they are going and what they need to focus on, they can’t perform at their highest level.
The secret of setting One Minute Goals is for the leader to work side by side with each direct report to write goal statements that include performance standards, so that both people agree on what needs to be done by what date. In other words, they work together to determine exactly what good performance looks like. I think the best practice is to have each goal on a separate page. Keep the goal statement short so that every day it will take less than a minute for the person to review it to make sure they are staying on track.
Yes—I’m suggesting that everyone look at their goals every day. Why? Because too often, goals are written and filed away in a drawer, not to be referenced again until it’s time for a performance review. Creating goals and hiding them from sight for a year is a surefire way to ensure that people won’t work on the most important projects in an organized way. What kind of message would it send if goals were set and never reviewed? Reading over goals every day ensures that people’s behaviors are matching their goals, allows them to adjust their behaviors if their goals are not being met, and reminds them how their work contributes to larger department or organization initiatives. This method actually lets people manage their own performance—which in turn helps them enjoy their work more and be more productive.
So where are you and your people going? When was the last time you checked? Start working with your direct reports today to write clear One Minute Goals, and encourage them to spend one minute each day to read them. I’m sure you’ll start seeing higher levels of goal achievement—along with higher morale.