Written by Riley Fairchild • November 22, 2023
Have you ever heard the wise adage that goes, “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” which is often printed on inspirational posters or on the underside of yogurt lids? This saying might be true, but many people find that reaching a goal or accomplishing a big task tastes sweeter at the end than it does during the grueling hours spent working towards that success. In the workplace, however, you can get a taste test of accomplishment by closely tracking your progress as you work towards your goals.
Here are five ways for creating and tracking a goal-oriented workplace so you can feel proud of how far you’ve come and to communicate with your manager how hard you’ve been working to stay on course towards your destination.
There’s no two ways about it, you have to have goals in order to track goals. There is an art form to setting goals, with many books, blogs, and articles created about how to effectively set goals.
When setting goals for yourself, whether professionally or personally, think specific. Goals are best when they’re detailed out, which includes details about the actual accomplishment or task, details about the timing of when you would like to achieve your goal, and details about how you’ll know that you’ve achieved your goal. Being realistic is another integral part of effective goal setting, as you don’t want to set yourself up for failure by aiming too high.
In the workplace, your goals might include:
Next, make your goals known to your manager, who is ultimately accountable for your work and for your professional development. By talking to your manager about your goals, you’re signaling that these goals are important to you. This is also a great opportunity to ask them for help in attaining these goals.
Most companies have regular periods of performance review, which are often paired with conversations about professional development and goal-setting. You may find that your HR team requests that you share your goals for the quarter or the year with them so they too can track your progress.
When talking to your manager about your goals, ask to have regular check-ins about what you’re working on and how you’re progressing. Getting them involved can lead to more time set aside for your professional development or a stronger direction for where you can turn to for support.
When you have the end date in mind for a professional goal, you can break your goal down into bite sized chunks or mini-goals and evenly space these out across the weeks or months of the journey. Taking on a goal as lofty as getting promoted might feel intimidating on face value, but if you break up that goal into smaller pieces, you might find that it’s actually quite achievable. For example, you might first start by taking a leadership course, then set another mini-goal to talk to your manager about upcoming opportunities for promotion, followed by finishing your resume.
There are also many excellent goal tracking platforms like Asana or Monday, which can help you stay on top of the steps it takes to accomplish your goal, especially when you’ve broken a larger goal into several smaller pieces. You can also set due dates for these small pieces, adding reminders to your calendar.
This step might sound like manifesting to those who subscribe to the laws of attraction, but there’s something to it — regularly talking to others about your goals not only helps you gain the support you need to accomplish those goals, but it also keeps your progress at the forefront of your mind. If you’re regularly engaging in conversation about your progress, you might find that you’re more motivated to continue your progress.
What these regular check-ins look like is up to you. Finding a work buddy or a mentor is a great way to structure a regular time set aside to talk about goals. Otherwise, you might casually bring up what you’re working on at a team lunch or when you’re out grabbing a cup of coffee with a coworker. They might also have some updates on their own progress toward their goals to share with you!
The last tip for effectively tracking goals in the workplace is to spend time reflecting on your progress. The question, “How will I know when I’ve accomplished my goal?” is a telling one, one that will help you know when you’ve crossed the finish line.
In your calendar, set aside a time biweekly or monthly to reflect on the progress you’ve made since your last self check-in. You might structure this time with journal prompts or whiteboarding, whatever feels most helpful to you. If you’ve made progress towards your goals, be sure to celebrate your hard work! If you find that your progress is stagnating, try to troubleshoot and find ways to once again move forward.
Just like if you don’t have goals, you won’t be able to track your goals — if you don’t take the time to reflect, you won’t know when you’ve reached your goals. So intentionally planning out time to reflect can have huge benefits.
When it comes to effectively tracking goals in the workplace, the journey really does matter. Whether or not it will be as sweet as crossing the finish line is up to you, but with the right processes and structure in place, progress will be just as big an accomplishment as reaching the end of your goal.