Are you heading in the right direction?

by Katie May, editor, Communication Briefings

The new year brings a wonderful “clean slate” feeling, making every worker feel that a new start is not only possible but also required. As you turn the calendar page from one year to the next, seize the opportunity to reassess your goals and adjust course to make sure you are working toward the right ones.

To start, cast your mind back to January 2010. What were you working on then? How much progress have you made on both your strategic initiatives and personal growth goals? Note: First, assess your own goals, and then work with employees to evaluate their progress too.

Avoid the natural tendency to berate yourself for those goals you’ve failed to meet. If employees fell short, don’t pass blame or punish them. Unmet goals provide an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your position and reconsider your targets.

If you did not meet a goal, do not automatically write it on 2011’s to-do list. Changing business conditions or other factors could mean that the goal is no longer relevant. In fact, working to meet certain goals could actually be counterproductive if your situation has changed. Ask yourself questions like the following as you consider your—and your employees’—goals for the year:

  • What goals will move you closer to where you want to be at the end of the year? If a goal is not an integral part of your success plan, or of your organization’s strategic plan, it is likely to distract you from your core responsibilities.
  • What goals will give you the most satisfaction as you complete them? If you can complete a relatively small goal quickly, do so. You can gain a motivational boost that will give you momentum to sustain yourself as you tackle larger and more challenging goals.
  • How must you change your habits and routines to make consistent progress toward your goals? Aiming high can become an exercise in frustration and futility if you do not plan how you will reach those lofty goals.
  • Where are you meeting resistance? If you are having difficulty meeting certain goals, identify the obstacles in your way. You might find systemic obstacles, such as cumbersome procedures or outdated equipment. You might find that you are creating obstacles yourself, if you are allowing bad habits such as disorganization or procrastination to affect your progress.

Before you end your goal review session, identify one small step you can take—today—to make progress toward your No. 1 goal. Write that step on your to-do list or calendar, using this action-oriented format: “By (date or time), I will (action) so that (result).”

Editor’s note: Often the first step toward reaching your goals is to recognize that your bad habits are standing in your way. If you are ready to take the first step toward becoming more focused on your success plans, click here to download a free 7-day plan for becoming more organized at work. Seven days from now, when you have cleared away the clutter and distractions that impede your progress, you will be better positioned to make meaningful progress and enjoy a successful 2011.

Last month’s poll

Last month we asked you “What area of communication do you find most challenging?” Nearly half of you agreed that disciplining employees presents the greatest challenge:

  • 49% said disciplining employees.
  • 30% said presenting myself professionally to those in charge.
  • 8% said keeping customers satisfied.
  • 6% said motivating the team.
  • Other responses included dealing with e-mail, communicating with co-workers and ushering information among cross-functional departments.

You can find free tips to help you in each of those areas on the brand-new Communication Briefings website. Visit While you are there, be sure to check out my blog at

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