“Love my wife” is always on my dear husband’s to-do list. Its placement varies—sometimes first, sometimes last but often buried in the middle between mundane but important tasks.
This phrase also has become a standing joke between us. By having it on his list, he says he can always tell me with a straight face that he’s achieved at least one of his goals.
What works for love though doesn’t always translate to business. Even my dear husband was shocked when I relayed the stated goals of a corporate communications department. He couldn’t believe the low bar.
The communication goals included:
· Keep managers and employees informed.
· Provide reliable ways to access up-to-date information.
· Make available accurate information.
Huh? In the old days of landline phones, these goals are akin to supplying a dial tone. It’s a given, not a nice-to-have.
With information these days, you expect to have it at your fingertips. And furthermore, the information will be accurate, timely and useful. That’s a basic requirement. It should not be a celebrated end-state you’re trying to achieve, which is the point of well-crafted goals.
Granted, research now is showing that aggressive goal setting has its own set of problems. In the Harvard Business School paper Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting, the authors Lisa D. Ordóñez, Maurice E. Schweitzer, Adam D. Galinsky, and Max H. Bazerman describe some dangerous side effects associated with goal setting. These include too narrow of a focus, a rise in unethical behavior, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation. Their advice is to use care and supervision when setting goals to avoid these unintended consequences.
The principle of “everything in moderation” now needs to apply to goals too for all of us, especially if you’re practicing LEAN COMMUNICATIONS™ and are adding value with less resources. Better be mindful than just leaving everything to chance. Or setting a target that you can reach with your eyes closed, fingers bandaged, and mouth taped. Or taking the other extreme and stating that your communications will change the world in eight days.
Instead, give your goals some guts. You don’t have to take things as far as my husband, David Matthews, who’s featured in the photo. He combined a local Capuchon and mask with his California flip flops at a Cajun Mardis Gras celebration. Considering he’s 6’4″, he was very conspicuous in his get-up. But, hey, he loves his wife so the locals embraced him and included him in their dancing.
How gutsy are your goals?