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How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Performance Goals.

In our blog last week, we shared the elements of setting professional goals. These goals provide motivation and clarity about your targets. They help create a pathway of success. They also provide a great opportunity for you to be an advocate for yourself to your boss.

It can be easy to fall victim to setting and forgetting your performance goals. Often times, goal setting is treated as a check-the-box activity where you enter performance goals at the beginning of the year and don't look at them until the end of the year. Instead, we coach clients to leverage goals as an opportunity to showcase your value and ask for what you need. Here's how:

Step One:

Once you have set your professional and personal goals, put time on your calendar to meet one-on-one with your boss for a conversation. Yes, this means actual time where you are discussing your goals in person/face-to-face. We have seen (and candidly done this ourselves) where we will update a corporate tracking system or a company spreadsheet with our goals and progress, leaving it up for someone's review of them. Setting time to discuss your goals, showcases initiative and most importantly, allows you to be the one tell your story, rather than it be left for interpretation.

Step Two:

Prepare for this discussion. Break out talking points into two categories centered on professional goals and personal development goals, leading with professional goals first. These professional goals likely are given to you and should be objective in nature (ie., they have a specific measurement and time stamp). As you prepare for the discussion, take note of your quantifiable results from the prior year. The reason this is so important is it showcases your value to the organization and provides a benchmark of what you can achieve. As you prep your talking points for personal development goals, anchor to specific skills and competencies that directly relate to your ability to achieve the professional goals outlined. The step of preparation is an important one. Preparation in almost all things is the difference between good and great.

Step Three:

Let's engage in a dialogue. As you sit down with your leader, anchor your conversation to start with your professional goals and outcomes that you are seeking or being asked to achieve. In this conversation reference how you did in those goals or similar ones in the prior year/performance period. This shows value to your leader that is objective and quantifiable. As much as we would like to think your direct leader knows and sees everything you do, they may not, so having a candid conversation about the outcomes you achieved creates awareness. We will build on this in the coming weeks when it comes to how to you track your progress in the performance year. This is how advocacy is built, friends!

After you discuss your professional goals, it is time to share personal development goals. Personal development goals should be linked to sills that you are looking to develop further and that are directly tied to achieving your professional goals. What is important here is you need to have a very specific skill in mind and you need to be clear and direct in asking for your leader's support:

  • For instance, if you have a desire to be a better presenter, discuss this with specificity and what support you need.

  • What topics do you want to present better?

  • What specific support are you looking for from your boss?

  • When you lead with specificity you may be shocked at the level of response and support you get back.

Often times when we leave statements or requests open-ended, you will hear crickets in return. Rather, when you ask for support in a specific way - you'll likely receive it. Not to mention, this demonstrates to your leader a growth mindset... not bad, if you ask us!

Next week, we'll tackle how to track your progress and an approach to keep goals front and center throughout the year. See you next week!

Shine on,

Jaclyn and Laura

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