Goals are Like Rainbows; They Escape You Quickly

This is the theme for an upcoming retreat I have planned for a group of middle managers. We will review 10 tactics for managers. It is hard to do justice in a couple sentences, but here you go:

  1. They that cannot govern themselves cannot govern others. You cannot insist upon work ethic and good attitudes if you don’t exhibit these traits. Be cheerful and work hard.
  2. Be open-minded. Sacred Cows make the best burgers. Good managers listen.
  3. Teach your team that goals must be:
    1. Measurable
    2. Attainable
    3. Aggressive- gotta be at least a bit hard!
  4. Develop some shared language. A 3 or 4-word adage that captures the esprit de corps of the team. Some examples might be:
    1. We are a Team
    2. Step Forward
    3. Everyone on the Dance Floor- no Wallflowers
    4. Positive, Productive, Fresh and Enthusiastic
  5. Develop some shared experiences. You want a family of sorts at work, even with its dysfunctions. Real families have them, so your work team can too. You have to have some things you do together. The family is the basic cell of society. Sororities, military Units, the Knights of Columbus, Nike…..they all leverage the power of shared experiences. Think of boot camp or a fraternity with hell week. They get guys to share intense experiences and then those guys are bound forever. Brothers. The experiences at work can be heavy like that-maybe changing an internal accounting system, or can be light such as a fantasy football league. I have loads of ideas- some of them are even ok.
  6. You teach and insist the team teach. Share basic performance metrics for your unit and the larger organization. Opine on which metrics might matter most to the layers above you in the enterprise. Yet just as important is to provide a forum for colleagues to teach. Having a team that perhaps weekly has a colleague provide training on an assigned topic makes learning part of the culture. It can reflect how you care about their development. You tell your team that is why you are doing it. There can be much wringing of hands on what are good topics, but a couple of good brainstorming sessions can elicit loads of topics. I’m good at that if anyone needs help.
  7. Managing by walking around; WMBA. Get to know your folks on an individual basis. No employee for whom you are directly or even generally responsible should lack the opportunity to at least occasionally greet you. Know names. If you have to use your elevator eyes to track down to a name tag, that is not knowing the name. You don’t have a relationship if you don’t know someone’s name.
  8. Be willing to listen. You don’t have to agree, and to gracefully disagree can be a powerful signal of respect. Don’t underestimate your colleague’s ability to hear LOYAL opposition to their perspective.
  9. Time Management is a priority, and it is understood not as a list making practice but rather as a means of accomplishing goals. Lists have utility, but often foster a habit of doing the easy stuff, with the most important, and correspondingly most complex, left undone. Fail to plan, plan to fail.
  10. When the above are in place, the world class manager will have the team create its own goals. A team working toward its own goals is, by definition, motivated. Motivation is getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it. Getting this goal development accomplished and memorialized is huge. Everyone is on the dance floor.


Helping managers with a roadmap to these characteristics is essentially the goal of many of my presentations, including the aforementioned retreat. I hope the list can help you.


We are all each other’s consequences. The above steps can bring a team alive. Be a catalyst. Maybe create a rainbow.

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