How to get senior managers excited about objectives

We all know that getting buy-in from senior managers is critical for the success of objective setting.  After all, if they don’t really care, why should anyone else?  Yet many of our clients come to us because despite frequent training initiatives, objectives are going nowhere among their leadership team.   

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What to do?  Well first of all it’s best to acknowledge straight away that yet another training programme isn’t going to make a lot of difference.  Most managers can understand the concept of SMART in about ten minutes, and they have been teaching it in schools for years.  It isn’t the concept that’s difficult, it’s the practical application – setting objectives is hard work if you start with a blank sheet of paper, and made worse if you and your team do expertise-led knowledge work which is hard to measure.

So here is a two-step process for you:

Step One - get the managers excited about the actual benefits of setting objectives (not just the generic all-purpose benefits that proliferate in too much training). 

Step Two - give them some tools that reduce the tedious part of the work (formulating SMART sentences, etc.) allowing them to focus on the enticing potential of improving performance.

Our clients have experienced several different approaches to these two steps – and you can read about one of them in the case study ‘How to Get Senior Managers Excited about Objectives’. 

In this case study, a FTSE 100 Financial services firm set about a concerted effort to make a difference through better objective setting.  The background to the project was the COO being challenged by one of his direct reports over their mid-year performance rating.  The COO admitted he didn’t really know what specifically could be done to move up the rating scale.  The direct report pushed for the answer.  To cut a long story short, the COO set a series of ‘impossible’ objectives, only to find they were all achieved, and the direct report earned themselves a top rating with the rewards that go with it.

COO self-reflection:   People can deliver a vast amount more than we thought – maybe there is something to this objective setting idea after all.

3C came in with some fresh thinking around Objective Setting, and a new kind of tool to make the whole process simpler, easier and more effective than ever before.  The 3C team worked closely with the managers, and a light touch engagement with the senior team.

Read about what 3C and the financial services company did together – download your free case study here!

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