Stop Setting Goals…

If you read my last post, 8 Reasons to Set Goals, this title may seem confusing. Well, my friend Bobb Biehl has written a great book entitled, Stop Setting Goals… If You’d Rather Solve Problems. Bobb realized years ago that not everyone is a goal setter. And, there are some people who are not energized at all by the pursuit of goals established by others. As a leader, what do you do if:  A) That’s you? B) You have some of these people on your team?

First, you need to understand the three types of people: Goal Setters, Problem Solvers, Opportunity Seekers. Here’s my quick attempt to summarize what Bobb has taught me.
Goal Setters – Men and women who are energized by the pursuit of meaningful goals. When Goal Setters see a problem large or small, they ask, “What is the goal? Should this problem be broken down into several goals? What’s our plan to achieve the goal?” They like to monitor progress towards goal achievement.
Problem Solvers – These folks see the world differently. They are energized when they see a problem to be solved. They may ask questions about the origin of the problem. They will want to discover the root cause of the issue. They will probably enjoy thinking creatively about how to solve the problem. The fact that the resolution to the problem may enable goal accomplishment is irrelevant.
Opportunity Seekers – Bobb believes that the world contains a small percentage of these folks – maybe as few as 5%. Opportunity Seekers don’t really care about the goal or the problems that may be evident. They have a sixth sense that enables them to see opportunity where others do not. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, is an Opportunity Seeker extraordinaire. He’s not energized by goals, and he tells us that our job as senior leaders is not to solve problems – it’s to prevent them. However, he has a life-long track record of seeing opportunities that others did not… the chicken sandwich and food in shopping malls being just two examples.
So what do you and I do with this information? Here are three suggestions:
1. Talk with your team. Find out which of your members have these various tendencies. Understand that they are not mutually exclusive; yet knowing the bias of your team members will be helpful.
2. Frame your work accordingly. When pursuing a goal, identify the major problems that are standing in the way. Give your Problem Solvers the assignment to solve those problems!
3. If you have Opportunity Seekers on your team, listen to them. Probe for understanding. Let them help you and the team see what they see. Their instincts will not always be right, but they can help you make significant leaps forward.
Just to be clear, I’m still a HUGE fan of goals. Understanding the way each of your team members thinks about goals will help you achieve more of them and make it more fun along the way![GLS_Shield]
 

Leave a comment



Michael Nichols

8 years ago

I learned some of these principles the hard way. Understanding and addressing the perspective of team members regarding goals will directly impact the fulfillment of the goals. Great thoughts Mark!

mark

8 years ago

Thanks Michael – Bobb Biehl is the one we both should thank for the thoughts behind this post. He’s a very wise man! Mark

David Sparks

8 years ago

I appreciate the categories of people identified here. Unleashing the talent and ability of your team can help those in positions of authority shatter their grandest expectations. You must know your people, and what drives them.

mark

8 years ago

I agree. Getting to know people is key. I believe an open conversation in a team setting can be an effective way to discuss this topic. Thanks for your comment! Mark

Brad Mitchell

8 years ago

This book by Bobb has impacted my leading and teaching for years. I’m so glad you highlighted it. As a teacher, it’s been great to talk about goals OR problems that need solving. When I give both types of application it hits a wider audience. Thanks, Mark!

mark

8 years ago

Brad, great to hear from you! I trust all is well in your world. Please call on me if I can serve you or your team. Mark

Vicki

7 years ago

I have always loathed “annual performance review and goal setting” time at jobs. My “goal” is always to provide the best support I can (measured by positive feedback) and to solve problems in the most optimal way I can.
When I found Bobb’s book, I photocopied the jacket and hung it on my cubicle wall.

mark

7 years ago

Vicki, Bobb is one of my heroes. I hope your annual performance review process has forever been transformed 🙂 Mark

Great Leaders Serve | By Mark Miller | Trend or Issue?

5 years ago

[…] decide, it may affect who you ask to work on the project. As Bobb Biehl teaches, some people are goal setters (those inclined to seize) and some are problem solvers. Both add huge value, but each has their own […]

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