Fixing Performance Management: Agile Goals

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.

---- Pablo Picasso

We really don’t know what future work environments will look like. We do know that it will be different. I talked last week about how these new circumstances REQUIRE the need to embrace uncertainty and get agile. 

The same goes for setting clear, agile goals. We know that in turbulent times, the clearer you can make work, the better the outcomes for individuals, teams, and the organization. Decreasing the amount of ambiguity in work plans will greatly contribute to your associates’ wellbeing.

Has your organization updated its goals recently? Can you quickly transition from annual goals to three-month goals? Or less? Are you prepared to discuss progress towards goals frequently? And honestly with no bullshit?

A recent study by MIT Sloan Management Review stated that to execute strategy, leaders must set ambitious targets, translate them into specific metrics and milestones, make them transparent throughout the organization, and discuss progress frequently.

Over time, goal setting has evolved. Today, many organizations refer to goals as objectives. It really doesn’t matter what you call them as long as the definition is clear within the organization. I’ll use goals here.

You may have used one of these popular goal setting techniques:

SMART Goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

CLEAR Goals - Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, Refinable.

OKRs - Objectives and Key Results.

FAST Goals - Frequent discussions, Ambitious, Specific outcomes, Transparency.

I personally think FAST goals are the most appropriate given today’s uncertainty because they incorporate frequent discussions and transparency with OKRs. Let’s break it down.

Frequent discussions: 

Having frequent conversations on goal progress creates more opportunities to assist in unblocking problems and allows for frequent course corrections throughout the year.

Ambitious and Specific outcomes:

There are decades of documentation in organizational psychology showing that specific and ambitious goals improve both individual and team performance.


Publicly posting goals and their progress has multiple benefits that can include increasing performance; aligning the individual, team and organizational goals; as well as increasing trust.

A good goal should SCARE you a little and EXCITE you a lot.

---- Joe Vitale

Remember, as you effectively communicate, there shouldn’t be any surprises at the end of the quarter or year.

Those frequent conversations should focus on:

  • What is the status of goals?
  • Where do we need to improve?
  • What are the roadblocks to success?
  • How can I help?

At the end of the day, it’s impossible to avoid uncertainty but we can be a lot better prepared for it using a clear and agile goal management process.

I love a spirited discussion, so let me know your thoughts. 

More to come, next week I’ll be talking about developmental feedback. 

Stay safe. 

Gene Pease

Founder & CEO, Mighty You

About Mighty You

Mighty You is an employee goals and feedback SaaS company founded by Gene Pease along with a team of world-class data scientists and engineers. Mr. Pease is a pioneer in the field of people analytics and performance, having sold his most recent workforce analytics company, Vestrics, to Ultimate Software in 2016

Leave a Comment