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A Better Approach to Goal Setting

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

There's something about this time of year that makes me think of... OKRs.

A leaf covered path among autumnal trees

The autumnal hues and the gentle chill in the air signify a shift in seasons here in the mid-western US. Pumpkin spice is now flavoring anything and everything edible it seems. I’ve always had a complicated relationship with this time of year. Fall is a season of transition. We mourn the end of summer, then eagerly await the holiday season and new year. At work, the change of seasons often brings a change in perspectives. We start turning the page on this year and start thinking about the upcoming year. Naturally, many of us start thinking about goals for ourselves and our teams.

Ahhh goal setting. Maybe the stress of goal setting explains my complicated autumnal feelings. I’ve worked on teams where we spend lots (and I mean lots) of time setting goals. The most common framework we’ve used is OKRs, though I’ve used others.

To be sure, goal setting is an important and valuable business activity. When teams set strong goals, we give ourselves purpose, clarity, and accountability. We reduce decision fatigue, we develop focus, and we are efficient. Goals are great!

There's a problem, though. We spend a lot of time setting goals that are not great. Why? I think it's a lack of training (my OKR training consisted of watching a TED Talk from John Doerr).

The resulting goals

  • are not clear and specific.

  • lack the flexibility to meet the ever-changing needs of the business

  • take forever to put in place

How can we expect folks on our teams to buy into that? Spoiler: We can't. And if we can't get people to buy in, we can't reach our goals.

I’ll be honest – I’m not sure I’ve ever applied goal-setting frameworks correctly myself. Is the time invested in these goal-setting efforts worth it? What am I doing wrong? Help!

Here at Starling, we felt like there must be a better, more effective way to engage with goal setting. So we reached out to Joelle Kaufman, a sought-after coach to CEOs, CMOs, CROs, and lots of other folks. Rachel and I worked with Joelle in the past to create and provide leadership training. She’s a badass.

And the good news is that Joelle has lots to say on this topic. She will host a special event for Starling members on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at 4:00 PM EDT. The event aims to help us find a better approach to goal setting – one supported by accountability, ownership, and motivation.

We’ll discuss various goal-setting frameworks, but the emphasis will be on OKRs.

I’m particularly interested in how we drive accountability in others. This is something I’ve struggled with in a variety of professional settings, so I hope to pick up a few tips.

We do a lot of this type of stuff at Starling. We’re always looking for ways to create happier, healthier, and more effective teams. If this is something you’re interested in, join us!



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