Contextual Goals Matter

If the goals are too small people feel micromanaged. If the goals are too large people are lost and unsure what to do, macromanaged.

Properly delegated Contextual Goals are Goldilocks Goals…They cannot be too big or too small. They are just right, and matched to the person.

How as a manager do you determine the “just right” amount of context that is needed for on-time, on-budget, on-quality completion of goals and tasks? Contact Mike to develop team processes and managerial-leadership systems that will increase productivity and completion of great work.

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Anthony, Frank and contextual goals.

Anthony is the manager of IT and Frank’s manager. One day Anthony and I were talking and he stated that he has seen a rapid decline in Frank’s output and quality of his work. I asked for an example.

Anthony, “Two months ago I asked Frank to complete a task that I felt was simple. We are working on a 10 month project to change over our IT functions to a new government health system and we need to have it operational with all the bugs worked out in 14 months. I asked Frank to code, test and sync an algorithm to identify repeated late payees, I told him he had 2 months to have the entire project complete and ready to integrate into our new systems-change. Frank’s part of the project was due 3 days ago and he is still not done. Plus he keeps asking me what to do, if what he is doing is right and I have to keep adjusting the order he does the work because he just cannot seem to understand what must get done first, second and third. And I overheard him in the break room talking about how miserable this job is making him.”

Me, “Is this unusual for Frank? Does he complete most tasks on time? Has he shown these behaviors before?”

Anthony, “That is why this is bugging me…he completes almost everything within the time-frame I set. And he always seemed happy this is the first time I have heard him complain about working here, and about me as a manager.”

Me, “What is different about this goal and project as compared to the other projects?”

Anthony, “This project is more important and because of the time-frame for completion I have extended the level of work he is doing and had to give him more work and longer time-frames to complete it.”

Me, “So, these are longer time frames and more work than you usually assign Frank?”

Anthony, “Yes, this project is more complex…and I really need Frank to take on longer time-frame goals. Most of our previous work he had to complete in like 2 days to 3 weeks.”

Me, “What would happen if you shortened the context (time-frame and kind of work) of the goal and gave Frank smaller pieces to work on?”

Anthony, “Isn’t that micromanaging?”

Me, “Not necessarily. You described that Frank is successful when he had shorter time-frames and work that could be completed in 2 days to 3 weeks. Then you suddenly changed the context and gave him longer work with a more complex goal, Two Months…How might you go back to setting the context that Frank is successful in?”

Anthony, “Take the Two Month goal and break it into smaller pieces, so Frank can grasp the context, I’ll try that.”

Anthony did shorten the context and time-frame of the goal. Once that happened Anthony told me that Frank was completing all the work within the time-frame and quality expectations. Plus his behavior changed rapidly, Frank was engaged, happy and back to saying how great it was to work for Anthony.

Setting Contextual Goals requires the manager to find what works quickly and do more of it…leading to engaged employees.

5 Levers for Employee Engagement_chart-001

It can be fixed…

People join companies, and leave managers…Be the reason people stay with your company

Leaders use Create-Learning’s Exponent Leadership Process to develop the professional, organizational, and emotional skills to be the manager that people look to as the reason to remain with your organization.

Contact Mike call 1.716.629.3678 to discuss making your team and managers better.