- "Process goals" are more effective than "outcome goals".
- An "outcome goal" refers to a specific, measurable state you hope to achieve by some specific time in the future. It's the most common form of goal.
- A "process goal" focuses on how you will achieve the desired outcomes.
COACHING POINT - the purpose of a goal isn't goal itself. The purpose of a goal is to trigger new behaviors!
Why process goals work better -
- They're smaller goals about repeatable behaviors - provides more positive feedback potential
- They focus on controllable behaviors - makes it easier to hold people accountable
- They can be monitored, evaluated & rewarded daily - creates momentum and a sense of progress
- After a while, the behaviors become habits - which means you've succeeded in optimizing performance
The problem with outcome goals
- Outcome goals are often S.W.A.G.'s (Scientific Wild A*S Guesses) - they are our best assumption (at that given time) of what could be achieved
- Outcomes are often beyond your control - it's hard to hold someone accountable for something they don't totally control
- Outcomes don't always reflect performance - let's face it...luck influences many outcomes
- Outcomes goals can be demotivating - it's a constant reminder that you're currently failing 😮 (since you're yet to achieve the goal).
COACHING POINT - motivation comes and goes. When motivation drops, outcome goals feel unattainable. They become even more demotivating.
Weight loss example
Outcome goal - "I want to lose 15 lbs. in 90-days" Sound familiar? :-)
Each time you jump on the scale, you're reminded that you've failed thus far in meeting your goal. Let's say you go to extreme measures to achieve the final 5 lbs. of weight loss. Chances are those extreme measures aren't repeatable habits that you can maintain. What happens? You achieve the outcome goal only to put the weight back on!
Examples of process goals
- Exercise 5 days each week
- No alcohol during weekdays
- No sugar
- No eating after 7pm
Each day you achieve a process goal, you feel a sense of accomplishment and progress towards a positive outcome. And what else has happened. You've anchored behavioral habits that will keep the weight off!
Question - we pay/incentivize mgmt. based on MBO's which are largely outcome based. Aren't we sending mixed messages by emphasizing process goals?
Answer - No! The point of any outcome goal is to change behavior. EVERY result that a manager is paid to deliver requires them to influence the behavior of others. By focusing on the process you're saying -
- "No excuses"
- "No shortcuts"
- "Hope is not a strategy"
- "We are what we repeatedly do"
- "Continuous improvement is key"
- "The little things add up"
- "Every day counts"
- "Times a wasting"
- "Sustainable results matter"
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