This post is part of the 📖 Nine Lies About Work series.
Today, I am reading the LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals chapter of book Nine Lies About Work written by Authors Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall.
There are some big lies, distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking that we encounter every time we show up for work. Nine lies, to be exact. They cause dysfunction and frustration, ultimately resulting in workplaces that are a pale shadow of what they could be.
By reading Nine Lies About Work, you can get past the lies and discover what’s real. These freethinking leaders recognize the power and beauty of our uniqueness. They know that emergent patterns are more valuable than received wisdom and that evidence is more powerful than dogma.
LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals
The consulting firm Deloitte estimated that it spent $450 million on goal-setting, tracking, and evaluating every year. In contrast, Accenture, its consulting cousin, with more than 500,000 employees, spent more than twice that.
When companies like these shell out close to $1 billion on something every year, there must be some truly extraordinary benefits.
What are they?
Companies invest in goals because goals are seen as a stimulator, a tracker, and an evaluator—and these three core functions of goals are why we spend so much time, energy, and money on them.
All goals, at least in the real world, function in this same way. You are either done, or you are not done: goal attainment is binary.
You might want to set some intermediate goals along the way and tick these goals off as they are done (or not done).
But you won’t ever be able to assign a “per cent complete” to your bigger goal as you tick off these mini-goals. And if you attempt to, or if your company asks you to, you will only be generating falsely precise data about the state of your progress.
In the real world, there is work—stuff that you have to get done. In the theory world, there are goals.
Work is ahead of you; goals are behind you—they’re your rear-view mirror.
Work is specific and detailed; goals are abstract.
Work changes fast; goals change slowly or not at all.
Work makes you feel like you have agency; goals make you feel like a cog in a machine.
Work makes you feel trusted; goals make you feel distrusted.
Work is work; goals aren’t. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Goals can be a force for good.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we will continue to read the next chapter LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals.
LIE #1: People care which company they work for
We, as team members, want our team leader to make us feel part of something bigger, that he/she shows us how what we are doing together is important and meaningful. You as a team leader make us feel that you can see us, and connect to us, and care about us, and challenge us in a way that recognizes who we are as individuals.
LIE #2: The Best Plan Wins
It’s far better to coordinate your team’s efforts in real-time, relying heavily on each unique team member’s informed, detailed intelligence. You’ll have to sit down and survey your team members and make your plan.
The more frequently and predictably you check in with your people or meet with your team—the more you offer your real-time attention to the reality of their work—the more performance and engagement you will get.
It’s not true that the best plan wins. The best intelligence indeed wins.
Author(s): Marcus Buckingham
Author(s): Ashley Goodall
Part 6 of 23 in the 📖 Nine Lies About Work book series.