Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Baby Goals

Many companies work with goals. Frequently these are quarterly or annual goals, and they say things like: "hire new developer" or "release the 3.0 version to GA". These are great goals, and I'm not knocking them, but they're very far from covering everything we do. And goals are rarely maintenance-oriented. When's the last time we got the team all jazzed up about a goal of turning around all support calls in 20% less time? I don't think that one happens too much. In addition, goals are almost always a ways away - they're quarterly or annually, not daily or weekly.

Enter baby goals.

Baby goals are the little games a team plays with itself in the form of very small, very short-term goals. For example, the support team I work with right now has seven open cases that have been around for a while. They're not a big deal; they're done and working, and we're just waiting on client confirmation or hardware returns. But they're annoying. They're another bit of cruft.

So we set a baby goal in the team: "I'm going to get in touch with someone at each client site today and push this resolution forward."

Will it kill us if we miss it? Nope.
Will we get kudos and bonuses if we make it? Nope.
Will we even bother telling the boss about it? Nah.

It's just a baby goal. It's a game that we play to motivate ourselves and to give ourselves something concrete and countable to accomplish. And we did it, and we went home feeling pretty good - all because we'd accomplished this one baby goal. (Oh, and we managed to close out three of the issues just by getting the client to finish out the confirmation of the fix while we were on the phone with them.)

Goals don't have to be big grandiose things. Let baby goals be your mini-motivators.

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