In the last few weeks while I’ve been on a writing (thought not working) sabbatical, I’ve been surprised by a confluence of events and activities that have all tied together. The common theme can best be summed-up in one question:
Where do you want to be in 5+ years?
This is an important question for people, organizations, and for the ECM industry. I’m going to start with people first because all of my readers happen to fall in that category.
Why Five Years?
When I work with people to set goals, I always get some of the same basic goals:
- Get certified
- Deliver next release
- Help win a proposal
They are all fine goals once you flush them out a bit. The question I always have is Why? Why are you setting those goals. Will they help you get promoted? Are you angling for your next job? Are they just easy?
I always make a person decide where they want to be in five years. It doesn’t have to be unchanging, just a starting point. That becomes a goal.
From the five year goal, I ask them where they want to be in 2-3 years with the only condition that they are still working at my company 🙂 If they want to leave in 2-3 years, my next conversation is on what I have to do between now and then.
With the intermediate goal, I have them set goals for the next year that directly map to achieving the 2-3 year goals. This process takes time, but the goals are much better and it becomes not just another process, but something career building.
Five years is arbitrary, but it works well. I had one person set a 20-year goal as well that included being a regular at a beach bar in Mexico. We refined that goal to being the owner with a good manager to do all the busy work.
After all, why not aim high?
Making Progress or Marking Time?
Let’s face it, if you don’t know where you are going, how do you know if you are making any progress?
I work with someone that is great at their job. They recently got promoted and things are going well. I asked them what their long-term goal was. I learned that they didn’t have one. I was shocked. They didn’t really know where they wanted to be in five years.
If you don’t have a defined, written, goal/vision of where you want to be in five years, how can anyone buy into your actions for today?
If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect anyone to follow?
It isn’t enough to have the goal. You have to share it. If people don’t know where you are going, how can they decide to follow? People may follow a leader for a while on faith, but eventually, they will want to know.
Next, I’ll take the obvious step and apply it to organizations.