You’ve set your vision. You’ve built your pillars. And you have written Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals. Your goals are developed to contribute to your company’s success, but are your goals setting you up for success? When we are writing goals, we are often focused only on the company, and not always looking at the value of the individual contributor. Here are five tips that your boss doesn’t want you to know about goal setting.

1: Avoid 100% Goals

We all want 100% compliance. We all want 100% training. But, in reality, 100% is often incredibly difficult to achieve. Instead of focusing on a 100% goal, set your target a little bit lower to accommodate for any factors that are beyond your control. For example, if your goal is to achieve 100% training of the organization on continuous improvement, that leaves you with very little room to train brand new employees who are brought in at the end of the year. It also doesn’t accommodate for any emergencies that might arise in your schedule or in your student’s schedule. Instead, reevaluate those 100% goals and consider changing them to something that is more achievable.

 Instead of simply taking and copying your boss’s goal, modify that goal to adequately reflect your contribution.

2: Make it Exceed-able

Often, we write our goals to where they are incredibly lofty and we leave ourselves little room to actually exceed our goal. When you’re going through the goal setting process, mentally take note of three different targets:

1 – “Does Not Meet Expectations”

2 – “Meets Expectations”

3 – “Exceeds Expectations”

When you’re writing your goals, write them so that you can realistically meet expectations. But, ensure that you give yourself an opportunity to exceed those expectations by going the extra mile, putting in extra effort, or using your creativity to bring a fresh perspective or new ideas to your goals.

3: Caution on Compound Goals

Compound goals are goals that require two steps to complete the goal. For example: Create new tools and templates by April 1st and implement and train all those new tools and templates by September 1st. If you fail to meet the first part of your goal, then by default you have failed the second part of your goal. Reconsider those compound goals, and break them into two separate goals or combine them into one achievable goal.

4: Not Your Boss’s Goal

Many organizations use a cascading goal process where goals are created at the highest level of the organization and then cascaded down throughout the organization. In a lot of departments, goals are simply copied and pasted from the boss or the department leader’s goal, without consideration for each individual member’s contribution. Instead of simply taking and copying your boss’s goal, modify that goal to adequately reflect your contribution. Keep in mind that your boss’s goal may require multiple people to take multiple steps to achieve the goal. Work with your team to divide those goals into realistic pieces and assign each piece to an individual member to accomplish.

5: Style Points

When your boss is evaluating your goals at your goal review times, they’re not only looking at what you accomplished, but how you accomplished it. I call this style points. It’s possible for you to achieve your goals simply through luck or through brute force, but your boss is will evaluate how you accomplished your goals. They will give you a better evaluation based on how you achieve those goals. For example, you can earn style points if you used creative problem solving, if you took the initiative to do something unique, or if you accomplished your goal through collaboration. This can be difficult for continuous and process improvers to accept since they tend to be very metric driven. Keep in mind that it’s not always just about achieving the goal as it is written, but it’s about how you achieve your goal.


Take the time to reevaluate your goals and check for these five things that your boss doesn’t want you to know. You will have much greater success in your goal achievement for next year.

Author: Allison Greco

Author: Allison Greco

Founder, CII

I created my foundation with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and MBA from the University of Oklahoma. Over the past decade, I have held Continuous and Process Improvement roles for Black Hills Energy, Williams, the US Air Force and BNSF Railway. I’ve started new CI programs and reinvigorated stale ones. Along the way I earned a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and became a licensed Professional Engineer.