On a recent management course, one of our trainers was discussing the idea of setting goals with some delegates.
He said to the first volunteer, “Stand here and your task is to throw as many screwed-up pieces of paper as you can into that waste bin a few feet away”.
The volunteer stood up and, rather embarrassingly, screwed a few pieces of paper up and threw them in the bin.
After one minute, the trainer asked “Had enough?”, to which the delegate said “Yes thanks!” and gratefully returned to his chair.
The delegate had managed to screw-up and bin 12 pieces of paper.
A second volunteer was requested. This manager, a lady, was given her task.
“Your task is to throw as many pieces of screwed-up paper as possible into this bin in one minute, and your target to beat is 12”
The lady went about the task with enthusiasm and scored 15.
The trainer asked for a third volunteer. Addressing this person, he said, “OK, you’ve seen what the others achieved. Do you think you can beat them in one minute?”
“No problem!” said the third volunteer, and he began when the trainer started the stopwatch.
He managed 21 pieces in the same time as the other two.
The first volunteer objected to this. “That’s not fair…you didn’t give ME those rules!”
The second volunteer also voiced her opinion. “Yes, it isn’t fair, because you didn’t give ME any choices, other than to beat one target.”
The trainer asked the third volunteer for his opinion.
“It was very fair”, he said. “I knew what I had to do and by when, and I got a say in what target I thought I could meet. I saw what was possible, set myself a higher target and knew that I could achieve it. And I did!”
In goal-setting, we very often just set the target and expect team members to achieve it. But how many of us are asked to achieve a task without being involved in the big picture, or fully understanding ‘the rules’? What might our team be capable of if they were allowed to set targets they thought were stretching and achievable? How much more ownership would they experience if they were involved in the goal-setting up front?
Something to think about!
Head of Training
(Image by freedigitalphots.net)
Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.