HR leaders, have you selected your professional goals?

Mostafa Sayyadi and Michael J Provitera explain how to choose the right ones and to see them through

Mostafa Sayyadi and Michael J Provitera

It is time to choose a goal that is not to be chosen lightly. Managers need to spend a great deal of time on goal setting. Low-hanging fruit is easy to pick. Managers in the UK and around the world achieve their goals, not as written words but by taking words and making meaning of them by implementing them as part of their culture and strategy.

Goal setting is based on both cultural and strategic aspects of your organisation. The true embodiment of purpose in your organisation’s culture and strategy spans a wide range, from maximising market value to meeting a specific customer need.

We also would like to add all stakeholders to the goal-setting equation. This step helps managers more effectively achieve their goals and not replace their goals with new goals without closure. 

To become a goal-oriented organisation, you, as a manager, need to write down your mission. While missions must be ambitious, they also must be within reason. For example, Tesla's mission statement expresses this well: ‘Create the most compelling car company of the 21st century while driving the world's transition to electric vehicles.’

While this goal is very ambitious and futuristic, it is also specific and related to the industry in which this electric car manufacturing giant operates. The goal incorporates all the cultural and strategic aspects of this company to transform the views of the people of the world towards electric cars – an idea that may have been marginalised because of naysayers.

For example, Toyota presents its mission statement in this way: ‘Toyota will lead the future mobility society, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people.’ As another example, Apple's mission statement is "to bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world’. And Huawei's mission statement is "to bring digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world”.

These mission statements are completely specific and related to the industry in which they operate and, at the same time, they show that all cultural and strategic aspects of these companies are in the service of their guiding stars.   

Now is the time to implement written goals. The most important component in the implementation of goals is commitment. And having commitment means including goals in all components of your strategy, from budgeting to operational risk management.

Communication, continuous reporting and sharing of ideas and stories are vital in this process. These goals should also be very flexible while looking into the future. Flexibility means planning for specific scenarios and major changes in market trends so that the company's profits are not affected by any situation or major change.

Finally, have a clear framework for integrating goals into your culture. Organisational culture is the heartbeat of your company. In our experience, although this framework varies depending on the type of business and industry in which you operate, it requires meaningful and frequent conversations among senior managers and the rest of the company so all members can understand why we are doing this.

Therefore, having one big, audacious goal doesn't mean the end of goal setting. Goal setting is an arduous and iterative process. Determining the goal is only the first step in a host of subsequent goals. It requires clearly formulating it, making a commitment to it and including it in all cultural and strategic components. Build flexibility into the goal-setting process and feel good about going into the new.

Mostafa Sayyadi is senior management consultant at Change Leader Consulting and Michael Provitera is associate professor of organisational behaviour at Barry University and author of Mastering Self-Motivation