5 Ways to Analyze Goals

By The Numbers

Andy Giancamilli, then chief merchant at Kmart, said this when his team followed the letter of his directions instead of the intent, “Think for yourself”.

He did not want mindless followers. He wanted people that would listen to his intent and analyze action plans to achieve goals.

Asking these questions will assist you in thinking for yourself.

1. Does this direction fit with our mission?
The goal is to discern if the end result will be negative or positive when compared to the organization’s goals.

2. Does this direction jive with other goals?
In the case we just reviewed, the orders were well over the open-to-buy. Had the situation not been identified in time to stop the shipments, the company could easily have been in a negative financial situation.

3. Does this direction align with our corporate culture?
Executives are the ones that have either created the corporate culture or that have allowed it to continue. If you are given direction that is contrary to normal corporate culture, it may have been misunderstood.

4. Will this result in the stated goals?
Many times we hear a message “procedurally” instead of hearing it as a “goal”. Consider the stated goal of the instruction and if your actions will lead to achieving the goal.

5. Is there a better way to achieve the goals?
Executives do not pretend, even though many think they do, to have all the answers. That is precisely why they need you. If the anticipated result can be achieved a better way, perhaps further discussion is warranted.

It is important to keep things in perspective. Although leaders want you to think for yourself, they still have a goal from their direction. These questions are not to justify thinking you were given bad direction nor are they to provide an excuse for insubordination. They are designed so you fully understand and execute what is necessary to achieve the goals the directions are intended to achieve. If the answers to the questions are troublesome, it does not mean you received bad direction, it means the direction is misunderstood.

Andy did not need people to simply take his desire and turn it into a hard and fast rule. If that's how he wanted to operate, he would be able to have all the work done by entry-level data clerks at far less an hourly rate than he was paying the management staff that actually placed the order.

Management wants people to be leaders. When giving direction they want that direction carried out intelligently. This may mean asking some clarifying questions to ensure that management's desire is met. In Andy’s case someone might have asked him if they understood correctly the overall goal was to make the shelves look full from a distance or did the two items per facing have a special significance. Although the thought of asking this question may be frightening to some, it was the type of question Andy interpreted as an interest in doing a good job.

I'll always remember Andy’s words, “I don't need a bunch of robots.” These are wise words for all to remember.

This is an excerpt from “Life’s Leadership Lessons” a collection of 53 anecdotal leadership lessons, each with an anecdote and the application of the topic in your everyday life. It is designed for use in weekly staff meetings or for personal development