Continuous Improvement: 5 Steps to Setting and Attaining Goals | SOS Podcast

Continuous Improvement: 5 Steps to Setting and Attaining Goals | SOS Podcast

The ability to effectively set and consistently achieve goals is highly valued in the workplace. It’s also very rare. In this SoS podcast episode, AEU LEAD Director Joe White shares five suggestions for those who want to better understand goal setting. In addition, he provides several thoughts regarding keys to success for those who intend to use the outlined process for needed transition.





Speaker 1:
The SOS podcast is a production of AEU Lead, an organization redefining how mid and frontline managers are developed.

Joe White:

Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Joe White and this is the Supervisor Skills Secrets of Success podcast. In today's episode, we're discussing goal setting, an essential tool for anyone seeking growth or improvement. We're going to highlight a process that's easy to follow and one I've used many times throughout my career. If you coach employees, lead change initiatives, or just want a resource that can be used to help grow as an individual, this episode is for you.

As a topic, goal setting is very popular. It's inherently related to self-care, which is Google's most frequently searched term. It also shares a kinship with self-help, which is the third most popular subject category for books sold. Whether discussing self-care, self-help, or self-improvement, change is required to realize any desired transition in circumstance. The process required to move from point A to point B is at the heart of our discussion today.

What is goal setting? Defined, it involves the development of an action plan designed to motivate and guide someone toward a goal. In practice, it's a little more deliberate than acting on impulsive desires or momentary intentions. Goal setting is about defining and setting into motion the steps required to transition from a current to a desired future state. For some, you're probably wondering why this is a topic of discussion for supervisors. The answer to that is actually very important.

Goal setting is the means of making purposeful change. Humans are creatures of habit and for most, change is anything but easy. Having a structured process is a key to success and helps simplify what otherwise can be an overwhelming task. A process, however, isn't enough. According to a study conducted by Goals Calling this past year, only 20% of the population sets goals for themselves. Of those that do, only 30% achieve them. It's the insight of the successful few that's worth paying attention to. To that end, here are some suggestions we'd like to pass along for your consideration:

1. Clarify your purpose.

While goal setting is a relatively easy process, making the needed transition is not. For those wanting to reach a desired future state, you must first accept that change is required. The fuel that drives those that succeed is intrinsic motivation or motivation that comes from within. Connect your goal to a pain or a passion. Doing so gives purpose and meaning that's experienced on an emotional level.


2. Pick your destination.

Goals have two key points of reference: 

  • Where you are 
  • Where you need to be 

Goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and have dates for targeted completion assigned to them. For those just starting out, it's important to narrow your focus. We strongly encourage supervisors to have only one active goal at any given time. In our experience, progress trumps perfection every time. Start slow, gain comfort, and transition from there.


3. Chart your course.

Whereas goals represent a desired future state, objectives are the major task required to complete them. Charting your course involves the process of identifying and documenting the major task needed for the desired transition to occur. As an example, if I set a goal of baking an apple pie for a holiday party, an objective for doing so may be getting a recipe or collecting all of the needed ingredients. If uncertain about what it will take to reach goals, involve the help of others in developing a list of objectives. As for the number of objectives, we recommend limiting them to five or less. If more are needed, your goal statement is likely too broad or complex.


4. Break up the journey.

Because objectives represent major tasks, most can't be completed in a single course of action. It's for this reason that goal setting typically requires development of an action plan. Action plans are designed for the purpose of completing objectives. Whereas objectives are designed to achieve goals, action items are developed to complete individual objectives. The process of breaking down goals into a series of narrowly focused steps is a key to success. The other point to make in developing action items is to recognize the sequence and order by which they must be completed. Getting this right will save you time and lots of frustration.

5. Casting off the lines.

A goal represents nothing more than good intentions until acted upon. For those serious about making needed transitions, there must be a defining moment that represents the start of your journey. When your action plan is complete, cast the lines and get underway. While the details define the route, it's the destination that provides needed direction. Remain focused on the goal and modify your plans as required along the way.

Goal setting is a means to an end. It's a tool that helps you get from where you are to where you need to be. Those that consistently set and achieve goals know change is required. They also understand the value of breaking up large or complex tasks into smaller and manageable steps. Most importantly, they realize the value of staying big picture focused and will make course corrections as needed to achieve their desired shift in circumstances.

Thank you for joining us. We greatly appreciate your time as a listener. If you found today's podcast of value, please let us know. If you know of someone that may have interest in the topic, please pass along a link with suggestions for them to check it out. If you haven't done so already, please review and rate your experience with the show with your podcast provider. Should you have any questions or need additional information regarding today's topic, just let us know. Our contact information is provided in the show notes accompanying this episode. That's it for now. Stay safe, and thanks for listening.

Need Longshore Coverage? Click Here


About the Author

As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.