New Year 2016

Farmer Joe and his cattle

Farmer Joe and his cattle

As I approach this new year, I realize I have the pleasure of starting a new job.  New Year, New Job, and if the gym membership works, a New Me.

Oh no, did I fall into the Jenny Craig trap?  Am I really going to set personal and professional goals in January only to have them degrade in months?  Who am I kidding, weeks?

But yes, I believe taking stock of ones strength and gifts and leveraging them towards success is actually a vital step in the maturity continuum.

Farmer Joe and I have recently entered into some discussion regarding how we feed out market calves, grass or grain fed.  Our momma cows will give birth to babies in early fall and late spring.  For cow calf operators, we need to know what we are going to do with those market calves prior to weaning.  This year the thought of feeding out on grass diets has entered the equation.  We have to keep the calves longer, as it takes longer to put weight on them, but we can sell for more dollars per pound.  The customer seems to be delighted to pay extra if we provide quality grass fed beef.

Farmer Joe is curious but hesitant as this is change… yep I said it, change.  That ever dreaded word which clearly translates to Armageddon in some languages. 

So with the dark cloud hanging over us in this decision, we are talking through the end results we are targeting for our farm.  Setting some realistic milestones to verify they are the right decisions, such as consistently measured weight gain, track any antibiotic use, manage field rotation, etc.

So then the next question comes into play.  How am I going to do the same at work? 

Easy steps:

1. Articulate what will make the company money and make my boss happy.  There are times I feel we, in HR, have a confused outlook on goals.  It can become somewhat compliance driven.  In case you are confused, that is wrong, goals should always be business results driven.  Ask yourself, what are the 3 things I can do, this year, to help my company better it’s position?

2.  Write the goals in SMART context critical as well.  Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely.  (Notice I used the word actionable.  I realize I am a Gen X, but it’s time to take action to achieve not to ponder. )

I had a coworker ask me to review her direct reports goals one day.  The first goal, which naturally you would think would be the priority, stated this:      “help reorganize the warehouse.”

I didn’t know how to define help, I wasn’t overly certain what reorganize meant and apparently this person had the whole year to do it.  I guess to be cynical, a person could kick a bucket out of the way in the warehouse on December 31 and say “goal achieved.”

3.  Caution Caution.  The first step so often ignored, communicating and gaining agreement.   As managers we need to clearly communicate the acceptance of the goals of our direct reports.  What is the fall-out for failing to do so?  It’s called alignment.  If you, as a leader, cannot give direction maybe you should reconsider your role.  This IS the focus of your job.

4.  Yet More Caution.  The next step so often ignored is the consistent review of goals. I worked for a company for a long time and it seemed once the goals were written, they were stashed away and never reviewed again.  I have to ask myself, “self, why did we bother to write these goals??? “

The best thing a manager can do is constantly review goals with direct reports.  This is precious opportunity for clarity, for understanding the barriers, and most importantly to celebrate completion.  By the way, never ever under any circumstances do this via email.  There is no excuse.

So I am brainstorming fresh ideas for 2016 goals.  Farmer Joe has decided to enter the market for grass fed beef.  Looks like an exciting year for us. 

Happy New Year to all of You!!!