Objectives are important……..but not all you should be focusing on

It is common with any position, you will have some sort of objective. This is your target, now go hit it. Everyone has to play their part so that the organization as a whole can reach its objectives as a whole. I would never advise that anyone not try to to hit their objective, or that they should not take it seriously…..thus they may end up unemployed, and no one wants to be there. It is in fact important to hit objectives, but I worry that so many get too hyper focused on this part of the job.

People are hired, likely to fulfill some part of an objective, some tasks the company needs taken care of. But why stop there? So many do. People have so many amazing capabilities, they are the greatest resource a company has and its a waste to just become a tool. Companies need a culture of innovators, people that will not only do their job, but also do stuff that is not their job. No company is going to put on your job description “Oh, and do all this other stuff too”, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want you to do it.

People can spend so much time on trying to obtain an objective, but the reality is, you can only do so much. Increased energies may result in a diminishing return after a point and do not necessarily improve the likelihood of achieving your objective. So yes work and do everything you should be doing to do your job, then look to contribute in some other way. If you obtain your objectives, great! If not, then at least you have contributed hopefully in other ways that you have still moved the needle of productivity within the organization. It would be very unrewarding to spend a lot of time, just on trying to achieve an objective, miss it and have no other real accomplishments to point to.

People can quickly become cornered in this rat race.  Year after year, their objective increases, and they focus on building bigger and better mousetraps.  It’s basically doing the same job you did last year, but making incremental progress to track to an objective set forth by the company.  This sounds like its a positive thing, growing, hitting bigger numbers, and at the minimum people should focus on doing that, but its not going to transform a company to greatness, and you won’t be helping your company compete with those that think of doing things differently.  What I mean, is breaking down the walls, breaking down the silos of work.  Too many people place themselves in a box.  Perhaps its the fault of their manager, perhaps its a culture issue, and it may even be self imposed, but its not good.  If I am doing my job, and your doing yours, who is doing all the rest of the stuff that exists out there that is no ones job?  That’s a lot of stuff.  Doing that stuff can help grow an organization, empower employees and just get more done, certainly more than the competition.

Competing in today’s marketplace can be pretty exhausting when you think of trying to outsell your competition: first to respond, offer better service, lower prices, more products……eventually you don’t win.  No one wins, sometimes your ahead, sometimes your behind, but if your doing the same stuff as others it’s going to be more and more difficult every year.   It just never ends, maybe even you go out of business in the process, who knows.  What people should worry about is companies that are innovating, because in the end its companies like that which find an easy way around their competition and come out on top.  I am not talking about the kind of innovation that leads to something revolutionary like an iPod or some other whiz bang technology, I am talking about everyone, doing small things, constantly improving processes, continuously trying to think outside the box.  People feeling empowered to take their silo and mash it up with another, maybe come up with something different.  Many ideas won’t go anywhere, innovating isn’t easy.  You need creative people, who can take an idea, shepherd it throughout an organization and make stuff happen.  No one believes these people even exist until they do it.  Where there is innovation there is going to be failures, but risk can be managed.  There is so much that can be improved or taken on as additional duties within an organization that if someone screws it up, its not the end of the world.  Core systems and competencies can stay intact and protected.

Back when many companies were smaller, they were actually innovating.  It’s how many companies got on the map, they had to think of a different way, do something that gave them their edge.  Then as they grow, people get appointed to do jobs, they put themselves in a box, and the momentum of a large company can drift away from the dependencies it once had on innovation.  But it should never stop.  Companies need to have their employees doing not only what they need  them to do, but also the employee should be doing what they want to do.  That is how you get maximum efficiency out of someone, it’s like having them work two jobs.  If you just spoon feed people an objective, and don’t allow them to focus on other things, then they become like cogs in a wheel…..what a terrible waste of talent.  If organizations allow employees to focus on their passions, in addition to their objectives, worse case is they feel less like a cog…….that’s a huge improvement.  You get a bunch of people doing that, and you have a lot more getting done and you have an empowered culture where innovation can happen.

Key things that need to be in place are an environment where people are not afraid of failure.  People can choose to try to do more, and do things that no one else is doing.  Companies have lots of people selling things, accounting things, engineering things, managing things……everyone on some scale,  more or less doing similar tasks.  Imagine having people also doing a bunch of different things.  It can be stifling to work in a job, where everyone in a department does everything more or less the same way, very regimented, very boring, very unlike innovation.  And of course, companies aren’t going to pay people more money to do their job,  plus all the other stuff they just decided to take on.  That will keep some people from doing the extra work in the first place.  But those who know that success is something you go do, any way you can, and not something you need someone to put as an objective for you, and pay you before you have actually done it,  those people will go figure it out……and those people should be rewarded.  Companies have really nothing to lose, and the reality is they won’t be able to compete with those that choose to embrace innovation.

Goals are important.  Profit is important.  Having an edge is important.  But just “growing your numbers” year over year…that’s a strategy for competitors, who want to make a business out of competing.  Going out and creating a market is how you win.

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