As soon as goals are mentioned, we frequently hear the words ‘goal setting’ mentioned. Goal setting is fine, but the term can encourage the mindset that once goals are set, then the job is done. Goal setting becomes even more effective when combined with goal reviewing, and so a more useful phrase might be ‘using goals’ instead of setting goals. Rather than then asking questions like ‘have you set set any goals?’ the more beneficial ongoing question can be asked: ‘how are you using goals?’.

Two other goal related thoughts can be really helpful. Firstly, that goals are an optional tool that can be used to improve performance by increasing focus, effort and learning. If they’re not doing these things they’re not being used well. Secondly, that many KPIs, or measures of progress, are simply feedback about current levels of performance on the way to an overall, bigger goal. Used this way KPIs become valued performance tools rather than ‘die in the ditch’ targets (in which case you could call them KPTs) which cause unhelpful pressure and stress.

So use goals for performance improvement and treat them as a performance tool where the user’s in charge of the tool and not the other way around.