12 Steps to Setting and Reaching Your Work Goals

work goals in 12 steps

If you find yourself failing to meet work goals without any benchmark in mind, suddenly your purpose for putting in the hours becomes obscure. The absence of specific short-and-long-term goals makes it more likely that you’ll succumb to watching the clock with only a paycheck in mind.

That’s not to say your lack of distinct work goals is your fault. In most cases, many employees get muddled in trying to align their personal ambitions with the culture of their workplace and aims of their employers.

Some organizations only care about developing employees in a way that serves their bottom line. Any discussions these companies have about work goals don’t involve helping you grow towards the next stage of your career.

Though, even when dealt such a professional hand, there are ways to stay oriented towards your work goals. Plus, there are plenty of organizations with your best interests at heart. In those cases, you still need to take personal measures to evolve into the best version of your professional self.

Below, we’re discussing twelve fantastic tips that’ll help you set and accomplish your professional goals in a way that aligns with your employer’s vision:

1.     Open the Lines of Communication with Your Team Lead or Boss

It’s all too common for employees (especially those on the entry-level) to avoid their bosses and team leads. We’re not here to judge. Bosses – particularly those with a stern demeanor – can be intimidating. Sometimes this avoidance feels like a survival tactic.

Unfortunately, failing to talk regularly with your boss only serves as a detriment. You’re much better served by talking directly to your boss and finding out how you can make their life easier. Such a tactic provides a deeper understanding of a company’s expectations and gives you time to assess how you can align your work goals to those needs.

2.     Understand How Your Team Operates

If you’re working on a team, there’ll be individuals with specific strengths and weaknesses. Find out where you fit into those inner workings. The chances are you’ve been hired to fill in a gap.

Still, keep in mind, as time passes and the team changes (or you change teams), so will your role.

Regardless, when you keep on top of how the team functions at its best, it becomes more tangible to establish metrics that’ll track your progress.

3.     Think Big-Picture

There’s a common notion of dressing for the job you want versus dressing for the job you have.

No, that’s not only a way to look slick at the office. It’s how you’ll shift personal paradigms and take control of who you want to be in the future.

Don’t stop this big-picture thinking with your wardrobe. Apply it to discussions you have with colleagues, reports you file, and clients you help.

That doesn’t mean overstepping your bounds or being insubordinate. Instead, it requires a focus on carrying yourself as a high-level, top-performing professional no matter your position in an organization.

4.          Control Your Own Destiny

In many cases, there’ll be factors outside of your hands that impact workplace goals. As such, don’t harp too much on overall company work goals. Instead, worry about what you can do to contribute to them.

For instance, if you’re in an entry-level sales position and the company is looking to boost revenue by 25% in the next quarter, you can only control your results. You must aim for that 25% increase in your personal results.

Alternatively, if you’re a sales manager, you’ll need to apply leadership techniques to impact your team’s results. Though, that still doesn’t mean you have any control over the rest of the company’s sales.

Remember though, there’s a need to take accountability when the rest of the organization comes up short. In these cases, you’ll require a contingency plan while still focusing on a strategy built around what you can control.

5.     Sharpen Your Toolkit

Your learning experiences and development as an employee shouldn’t be mutually exclusive to what happens during a workday.

Take public speaking classes, writing workshops, or attend other professional seminars. Also, seek mentorship opportunities within your organization with either management or executives, depending on your career trajectory.

6.     Visualize Goal Achievement

It’s all well and good to know that career and workplace goals are specific, measurable, time-sensitive, relevant, and attainable. But that doesn’t mean you know the exact endgame. More specifically, what does your accomplished goal look like in its final form?

Do you envision a more seamless workflow during projects?

Will your team be more cohesive?

Or will it end with you in a different department?

Visualizing your goal will keep you on the ball and hungry for that sense of accomplishment.

7.     Continually Asses Your Status

You may have already opened the line of communications with your direct supervisor. But it shouldn’t end there. These conversations must be regular occurrences for you to stay on top of your status. Otherwise, your aspirations for corporate ascension may get lost in the shuffle.

These crucial conversations don’t need to be formal – though that wouldn’t hurt. Instead, you can request periodic once-a-month, once-every-two-month, or once-quarterly meetings on a somewhat ad-hoc basis.

If you don’t maintain an active role in aligning your own goals with the company, expectations may shift without your knowledge. When your communications are consistent, you’ll remain on top of what the company wants from you and adjust your goals accordingly.

8.     Apply the PPP Methodology

The PPP method stands for Progress, Plans, and Problems. It’s a management technique that monitors team progress through status reporting.

Under these guidelines, team members provide a weekly report of 3-5 primary achievements, goals, and challenges. This list encompasses your progress, plans, and problems. It’s then shared with leaders, colleagues, and other management.

PPP is a versatile technique – as it can be used in an array of company dynamics. For example, employees can report to managers, team members can deliver to teams, or a CEO can provide it to the board or investors.    

Lastly, PPP weekly reporting is usually implemented in special progress reporting software.

9.     Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

You know those singers, like Adele or Lady Gaga, who boast flawless voices that wow the masses? They don’t maintain that power and control all on their own. Even these entertainment giants have coaches and instructors keeping them in peak form.

Approach your progress and work goals the very same way. As an office superstar, you may have a tough time seeking coaching, mentorship or allies, but set your ego aside and cultivate a network of people invested in your climb up the ranks.

10.  Take Time to Audit How Day-to-Day Tasks Align with Long-Term Goals

If you’re on a self-improvement journey and aiming to take both your personal and career development to the next level, everyday tasks can get in the way.

Maybe you want to go to the gym to help with confidence in meetings. Or you’re advancing your education to qualify yourself for a promotion. In many cases, deadlines, client demands, last-minute projects, and demanding bosses can get in the way of getting to the gym and making classes, for instance. Frankly, that isn’t acceptable, and you deserve better.

When day-to-day demands prevent you from self-improvement, talk to your management, and see what can be done to give you space to grow.

11.  Measure Your Progress

Sometimes it can be hard to remember what you did yesterday, never mind recalling every single one of your professional accomplishments. However, when you’re faced with annual evaluations, or you’re sprucing up your resume, you need to sell yourself. As such, being able to bring up those fantastic feats and monumental gains you’ve made in the workplace is a must.

Keep an ongoing list of victories in a Word or Excel document. This way, you’ll be ready for the end of performance periods and job interviews alike.

Furthermore, don’t only list those considerable wins in the workplace—because then you’re setting the bar unreasonably high. Meeting regular deadlines and showing up every day with an infectiously positive attitude are both victories. Though, you’ll definitely want to take note of the massive accolades, like successfully pitching a client or stepping in to help with an urgent research project.

12.  Practice in Positive Self-Talk

It doesn’t matter who you are—you’re going to face setbacks at work. Clients will reject pitches, and bosses won’t approve reports. Sometimes you’ll make a careless mistake that has you wondering how you even have a job in the first place.

Don’t let these instances get in the way of your long-term goals. The most prolific professionals – such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos – have had their misfires as well. Just because you’ve fallen short in a specific scenario doesn’t mean it’s time to get down on yourself.

No matter the scenario, talk yourself up. Remind yourself that you’re an awesome person who’s passionate about their work.

We hope our list of tips goes a long way in helping you accomplish your long-term professional goals. 

Use Team Compass to track weekly progress, provide feedback, and move everyone in a unified direction, today.