I Would Be Awesome, If ...

I Would Be Awesome, If ...

How to Talk About Your Individual Goals With Your Team

Fabian Leinen's photo
Fabian Leinen
·Oct 2, 2021·

6 min read

Everyone of us has personal goals: becoming a project manager for a major project, reaching a specific salary or having a chill job to spend as much time as possible with friends and family. These goals are all legit, but they do not necessarily make an organization or a team successful. Employees are usually not incentivized to work in the team's interest but only to follow their own goals. This can easily result in frictions between team members, which not only has the potential to cause the team to fail but also prevent everyone from reaching their individual goals. Instead, imagine a team where everyone knows each other's goals and positions them to achieve those goals. This also makes it easier for team members to understand why others act as they do, which reduces frictions again. I would be awesome, if is a structured method to talk about your individual goals in a team.

How Does it Work?

Talking about what would make someone awesome, so what one wants to reach in his or her life is very intimate. It makes people vulnerable because not achieving a goal means failing, and failure is still often seen exclusively in a negative light. As a consequence, I would be awesome, if works in 1-on-1 meetings. Even if it's is okay for you to talk about your personal goals in front of a group, put yourself in the position of someone on your team who may not find it so easy. As a result of the 1-on-1s, everyone on the team has a single meeting with everyone else on the team. It might be easier for teams with five or more members to use a single round-robin tournament scheduler on the internet than to set up the schedule manually. One of those meetings per week and 60 minutes per meeting is a good time frame not to overload everyone with meetings while still having enough time to discuss everything in detail. In preparation for this meeting, it is important to write down your personal goals. This not only makes it easier for your partner to follow what you are saying, but it also forces you, as everyone else, to think more precisely about their goals. You can use this canvas to write down what needs to happen to make you even more awesome than you already are: I_would_be_awesome_if_canvas.png Download this canvas as pdf

This canvas is split into two parts: the left one is a bit more abstract, while the right one contains goals that you could use to hold yourself responsible for in future. So, let's start with the left side:

  • How I want to be seen by others: For sure, you want others to think you're awesome. But what else? Do you want to be seen as a techy, a leader, a visionary or the one who makes the best jokes? Is it important for you to seem successful to others? Do you want to be seen as a curious person who loves to learn by trying out new things? Feel free to write everything that is important to you. Also, think about what excites you about other people and if you want to excite others in the same way. Writing all this down can guide you on what you should do actually to become that person.
  • I will definitely preserve that: The good thing is that you are already awesome. You have a lot you can be proud of and this is the place to write the most important aspects down. This place is for (soft) skills, habits, traits or a specific mindset.
  • I will stop doing that: For sure, there's something you don't like about yourself. Here you can write down for yourself and for all mankind that you will stop it.

This left-side contains the values that drive you. For all attributes, you write down here, make sure always to have examples ready to help others understand what you mean. The right side of the canvas is more tangible, so formulate these goals S.M.A.R.T. That doesn't only allow your partner to understand these goals better, but you could also look back to it in future and see if you are still on track, if you need to pivot or if your goals have changed. The time periods of 1, 3, 6, and 11 years are derived from the Fibonacci numbers, which provide better time-bounds than the usual "five-year goal" from job interviews.

When filling out the canvas, you should focus on your professional life, but don't exclude everything else. If you want to build a house and spend more time with your family, that's also okay and it is a piece of valuable information for your colleagues.

After scheduling 1-on-1 meetings and filling the canvas, it is finally time to start the first meeting. You can either meet in person or do it remotely. If you prefer to do it remotely, make sure to turn your webcams on to create a better setting for an intimate conversation. One of the two will start presenting his or her completed canvas. Because of the 1-on-1 setup, there's enough time to discuss the canvas afterwards and give each other tips on how to reach the goals. This gives you the chance to learn more about yourself and your goals and also to refine your canvas or the stories around it for the next meeting. After the discussion, the other person presents their canvas and you then go back into the discussion.

How Did It Work Out for You?

We were regrouped as a team in large part during the Covid pandemic, and during our bi-monthly retrospective, we got to talking about our personal goals. We first discussed two different options on how to talk about our personal goals:

  • There could be one person presenting his or her goals in a weekly meeting and afterwards, we would discuss them.
  • Everyone would write down their personal goals on index cards, and then we would mix all of them, draw one card and discuss as a group whose goal it is. This has the advantage that everyone can get a better picture of what others think about them. For this approach, it is more difficult to consider time related aspects and to include hard goals and rather soft values, as it is the case above in the Canvas.

So we have chosen the first option and had problems to find a volunteer to start because it is inconvenient to talk about personal goals in front of a group. A courageous colleague then agreed and started the next Friday in a recurring meeting with a PowerPoint presentation containing the goals. The goals were super realistic, we found them even too low, but he explained it with his idea of work-life balance. Anyhow, the entire setup felt a bit strange; due to the remote setup, the colleague asked multiple times if we are still there, so we have developed the format described above.

In the following seven meetings in seven weeks, I've not only heard the personal goals of my team but also pitched my goals seven times. I didn't change my initial goals, but I've always improved the story around it. I also got tips on how to get closer to my goals and even an intro to someone who might help me. For me, it is a clear sign of a well-functioning team if everyone indulges everyone in achieving their personal goals and even supporting them. And of course, this also helped me to understand the others better in their actions and gave me the chance to support them in reaching their goals.

Do you know the personal goals of your colleagues? I would be more than happy if you try I would be awesome, if in your team and tell me how it worked for you. Did it help you? Did you exactly follow this guide or did you adapt it at some point to your team's needs?

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