Every year HR people like me torture employees and managers alike with what is called the “Performance Management Process”. That’s where we insist that employees and managers together set goals for the coming year, record them somewhere (usually in a complicated online tool which no one can remember how to use) and then forget about then until we again torture employees and managers alike to actually sit together and talk about the progress towards their goals, you know give some feedback, before forgetting about them for a another six months before HR people like me ask employees and managers to again talk to each over and close out the goals and again give feedback and then make decisions about pay. The CIA or FBI could use this process to torture spies and terrorists with a lot of success.
In other news I have entered myself into the Conquer the Wall Marathon. This is some nutty event where people get to run or walk on the Great Wall of China for fun, on the first of May. I'm doing  the 10km challenge. I manoeuvred my way into going along to this event with some other women in Singapore after overhearing a discussion about it at a dinner. I really want to see the Great Wall of China and visit Bejing and get fit and make some friends. All good goals.
The fear of not completing the 10km has me getting out of bed and running either on a treadmill or in the dark on Singapore streets. The fear of not completing has me cutting out wine on most nights of the week. Eeek! And the fear of not completing has me running/walking around a reserve in Singapore for 11km on a Saturday morning with the rest of Singapore.
This is what a good goal can achieve. It directs energy and provides focus.

So what happens when we try to put goals into an organisation? Why is it so hard?

In my view setting goals that mean something to employees is hard. Employees need to buy into what the organisation is trying to achieve and leaders need to be good at communicating a vision that connects with employees and helps them understand how what they do, connects with the overall picture.  In additional humans find it hard to give feedback, both good and bad. It's  a skill that can be taught and needs to be practiced. Having good conversations is tricky but when you have one with another person it's satisfying and heartening. There is nothing I love more than hearing about a great conversation a leader has had with one of their team members.

So goals are great and getting feedback about how you are going against goals is the ticket to success. When I started training for the Conquer the Wall event I could barely run for 30 seconds. I can now run for 2 minutes and 30 seconds without stopping and can do this over and over with small breaks walking in between. I'm certainly not going to win any races in the near future but seeing the progress I have made in 4-5 weeks is pretty cool.

The way to get this kind of power into organisations is to train and support our leaders and managers. To give then the skills to give good feedback and have great conversations. That's what I want to do.