If You Donít
Know What You Want, Then How Are You Going to Get It?
By Della Menechella
Recently, I spoke with a client who wanted me to do a workshop at an
upcoming conference. I offer a
number of different talks, so I asked her what the focus of the meeting was in
order to be able to suggest a relevant topic.
She said that although the committee members had already picked several
programs, they had not yet identified a focus for the conference.
My first thought in response to this was, ďIf you donít know what you
want, then how are you going to get it?Ē
However, I am savvy enough not to insult people, so we spoke a little
longer and we came up with a program that she wanted me to present.
It never ceases to amaze me that people do not identify outcomes they
wish to achieve. While the above
example is related to a conference, it is by no means limited to that area.
Many people engage in activities in their careers and businesses, but
they havenít defined what they want to attain.
They are completing tasks, but they arenít focused on accomplishing
When I was a human resources executive, I often worked with people to
determine the appropriate jobs that were needed in their groups. Many department heads would complete job descriptions for key
jobs, which described all of the tasks that the employees would be required to
do. It took a great deal of effort
for me to get these individuals to realize that employees in key positions are
not paid to perform tasks, they are paid to produce results.
Through much coaching on my part, we were able to identify the outcomes
that the individuals were expected to achieve in the various positions.
Why is it so critical to determine outcomes for a job, a meeting, a
department, or any other situation? Because
if you donít know what your outcome is, the odds are that you will spend a lot
of unnecessary time and money trying to reach a fuzzy target.
And there is a very strong chance that the target will not even be
reached. Outcomes let you know
where you are going. They give you important information about how to use your
resources Ė time, money, and employees. When
you know your outcome, you can continually make important decisions Ė is this
going to help me reach my goal or will this take me further away from my
Clearly defined outcomes can also be very motivating.
I worked with a coaching client who had an idea about a new business that
she wanted to start. When she first
got the idea, she was very excited about it, however, she never took action to
get the business moving. She
continually came up with excuses about why she wasnít doing anything to make
the business a reality. I finally
got her to sit down and write a detailed description of what the outcome was
that she wanted to achieve with the business.
That was the missing key. As
soon as she wrote down the detailed outcome, she began to do the things that
were necessary to get the business started.
For her, defining the outcome spurred the action that is required in any
business. Five years later, she has
a very successful business that she absolutely loves.
Some people have a great deal of difficulty in trying to determine
outcomes. It is because they are
looking into a future that isnít certain and they canít identify what it is
they want. An easy way to get
around this is to imagine that the outcome has already been achieved and then to
describe what it looks like. Going
back to the situation with the meeting planner, the question that I asked her
was, ďLetís assume it is six months after the conference and you know that
it was a huge success. What would
have happened to let you know that it was successful?Ē
People are much more able to describe the past then they are to identify
an unknown future. By asking the
question this way, I was able to find out that according to the planner, the
criterion for a successful meeting was that the attendees would have the tools
they needed to be able to more easily and effectively handle the many changes
that were going on in their industry. When
I discovered this outcome, I was able to suggest a program that would help the
organization achieve this desired result.
Before you take action (small or large), you need to identify what your outcome is Ė what do you want to achieve? When you do that, you will cut down your time, streamline your efforts, accelerate your progress, and reach your desired goal. When you know where you are going, there is a good chance that you will end up getting there.
Della Menechella is a speaker and trainer who helps organizations achieve greater success by improving the performance of their people. She is a contributing author to Thriving in the Midst of Change and the author of the videotape The Twelve Commandments of Goal Setting. She can be reached at 732-985-1919 or email@example.com. Subscribe to free Peak Performance Pointers e-zine - send blank e-mail to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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