HR Professionals Forum – Goal Setting

28-February-2014 in Granite Consulting Community by Lucy Thomson

Our HR Professionals Forum kicked off for 2014 with a spirited discussion lead by Alexie O’Brien, on the value of Goal Setting – both professional and personal. GM of Lululemon Athletica in Australia and New Zealand, Alexie addressed a group of professionals predominantly from HR departments of a range of industries.

Founded by surf/skate/snow enthusiast Chip Wilson in 1998, yoga and pilates apparel retailer Lululemon has grown from a single concept store in Vancouver’s beach neighbourhood of Kitsalano to a global enterprise with a presence in North and South America, Europe, Australasia, the Middle East and Africa. Now carrying active wear for women, men and girls, the stores also offer yoga classes to the public, and extensive personal development opportunities to employees.

Alexie O’Brien is certainly living, breathing proof of Lululemon’s investment into its employees, her passion for health and wellbeing, and drive for success clearly has a profound effect across all aspects of her life and it is easy to see she represents the organisation’s values, leading by example.

So why should we and why do we set goals?

Goals are a tool for success, they give us direction, help us strive beyond our comfort zone and prioritise activity to keep us in oncourse. That said, it is important to realise success means something different to every individual – for some it could be a monetary goal, others good health and happiness.

OBrien, a recreational beekeeper, relates goals setting to bees. Anatomically, bees have a terrible body to wing ratio making them incredibly inefficient flyers. Their wings must beat an enormous amount to carry their abdomen and yet they are busy workers and fly great distances day-in-day out – they have one goal sun-up to sun-down and fly flower to flower collecting pollen. They don’t wait for the pack in the morning, the set off regardless, and don’t wonder whether or not there will be pollen at their first destination. Alexie posed the group the question how much would we achieve if we were as committed and focused as bees?

Goals may change as you progress, you may redefine your direction. Often we think “I’ll be happy when…” and we get there and realise everything isn’t perfect. Setting some goals are better than no goals. Achieving them may not prove to fulfil but at least you’re set in motion – it’s often about the pursuit.

How can goal setting help at work?

Like personal goals, setting goals as a team provides a direction for action and focus. Some people even argue that setting team targets, rather than personal targets, can be more affective – individual sales targets drive individual behaviour, whereas group targets drive teamwork. Alexie suggested getting familiar with your teams’ personal goals (outside of work) can be useful in helping them pursue and achieve goals at work. Make an authentic connection, have conversations about what makes them tick and where they want to go. For example if someone has a goal in photography, offering them a voucher for a camera store rather than a monetary reward could actually mean more to them, guide them toward their goal and ultimately show a commitment to them.

Similarly employees should be are aware of the company’s goals so they can see how they fit into the journey – it gets them team invested. Set measurables, follow up, and review progress.

At Lululemon failure is encouraged, “it’s when you learn” says O’Brien. They aim for an entrepreneurial culture and support their teams in taking risks. Celebrating and taking lessons from failure erases fear in teams and often failure needs to be experience firsthand to learn from it. For example at quarterly meetings, each employee goes through what did and didn’t work and what they will improve on.

The final part of the session was a first for our Leader Series at Granite – meditation. O’Brien shared a visualisation exercise with the group, getting each person to visualize their future self, future career, family and lifestyle. Challenging this may be in a room full of people, the activity was an opportunity we do not often get.

A big thank you to Alexie O’Brien of Lululemon Athletica for sparing the time in her busy schedule to speak for us, the volume of positive feedback we recieved from guests who attended this event is a testament to her ability as a speaker and coach.