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 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 fulfillment 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 had 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 ten-month project to change 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 two months to have the entire project complete and ready to integrate into our new systems change. Frank’s part of the project was due three 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 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 need Frank to take on longer time-frame goals. Most of our previous work he had to complete in like two 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 has 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 that 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 completed all the work within the time frame and quality expectations. Plus, his behavior changed rapidly; Frank was engaged, happy, and back to say 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.

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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.