Hard Work? Maybe Not.
Did you ever meet someone who told you how hard they work?
They probably have a great story about long hours, demanding bosses or clients, difficult co-workers and the stress that goes with all of those things.
And yet, how often do you meet someone who says their work is hard because of the challenge of achieving goals?
For someone to be in the second category, they need to have a challenging goal. Most people don’t.
According to virtually every poll over the past 30 years re: employee engagement, most people (*60%+) aren’t happy in their jobs. Given that one of the popular definitions of happiness is “progress towards a worthy, meaningful goal,” maybe this widespread unhappiness isn’t such a mystery.
One of the criticisms of performance management systems is the dreaded annual review. The two biggest criticisms of annual reviews are: 1) both the person writing the review and the person receiving the review forgot about the goals set a year ago (or they have changed multiple times since then) and 2) the unfair (and often indefensible) subjectivity of the feedback. Given that giving opinionated criticism re: outdated irrelevant goals are such a waste of time (and sometimes disruptive in other ways), it’s no wonder that many companies have decided to do away with these reviews.
Does that mean we should throw out goals with the review bathwater? One of the problems with goals is the failure to distinguish goals that lead to feelings of progress, engagement and happiness with standards for maintaining the stability of a system.
The difference between leading and management is that leading requires a goal while managing requires a standard. Whenever a manager decides to pursue a new standard, they have an opportunity for leadership even if they were “volunteers-told” to do so. Of course, you could decide on your own to set a new standard for yourself and/or your team. And you could do that more than once a year if you choose to do so.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow once observed, “To do some idiotic job very well is certainly not real achievement.”
The difference between an idiotic job and a meaningful one may be whether we choose to be an idiot who blindly accepts the hard work put in front of us or if we choose to be a leader who chooses to pursue meaningful goals.
So, which person do you choose to be?