Business Today

Spell it out

Shamni Pande        Print Edition: March 18, 2012

It is that time of the year again. Employees everywhere are busy with appraisals . Most will find themselves fielding that old chestnut: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Even if they can breeze through the answer verbally, spelling it out on paper is not easy. Many are self-conscious and do not want to come across as overzealous or selfpromoting. They are also wary of committing to something that may come back to haunt them later.

Shamni Pande
Shamni Pande
Experts suggest that these difficulties can be overcome by writing down not just your goals, but also your values. It is the next logical step after taking stock of your achievements during the year. And, yes, there is a reason for putting pen on paper: the process is believed to have a psychological impact, as it works like a "contract with yourself" and motivates you.

Alexandra Samuel emphasises the importance of writing in her seven-step process towards goal achievement. In a Harvard Business Review blog, she writes: "Choose no more than three (goals), and be very clear if there is one you are most committed to achieving. Write these at the top of your spreadsheet in a large font so they keep jumping out at you." Samuel is Director of the Social and Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University in British Columbia, Canada Do not wait till the end of the year to write down your goals, suggests Vaishali Kasture, a senior investment banking professional.

"Plan a year ahead for what you would want your key stakeholders to say about you at the end of the year," she says. This helps in coming up with an actionable plan. At a deeper level, writing down your goals and values makes you introspect, which is the real key.

Contemplation of personal value systems, personality, areas of excellence, new skills one seeks to acquire and even areas one may not want to explore are all central to what goes on appraisal forms every year.

You may want to become a manager from a specialist job function but this may not be possible immediately, because every role requires grooming. Besides, even if you have excelled at achieving targets, this may not be a role you relish. It is imperative therefore that you deliberate on your internal motivations before stating your goals.

Many people do not have the luxury of working in setups where transitions to higher positions are mentored. In such cases, it is best that you begin the process early, on your own.

That brings us to the problem of breaking down your big plan into smaller, achievable portions. Here, it is again important to first list your current responsibilities and add some new initiative that builds into your vision for the future. Ask yourself if this is too big. Look at how it can be achieved and what is already expected of you. Work out how you will find time for it and which part of the new initiative would require your direct involvement.

Doing so not only allows you to state your target, it also lets you explore the possibility of collaborations. Good leaders know that success is best achieved when a situation is win-win.

One smart manager wrote that she wanted to assist colleagues hard-pressed for time in a fact-gathering mission on the conditions of marginal workers. Her superiors jumped at her suggestion as no one wanted to do the work, which was very tedious. Within a couple of years, she was heading the Corporate Social Responsibility programme of the organisation. Hope you are looking for that pen and paper.

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