We share 8 brainstorming questions to help you set more effective goals and discuss how these questions would be tweaked based on if you are setting personal or professional/organizational goals.
AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript
Season 4, Episode 22: Soft Skills: Goal Setting - Part 2
Recorded: September 26, 2023
Released: October 24, 2023
Hosts: Brian Jonson, AASHTO Accreditation Program Director; Kim Swanson, Communications Manager, AASHTO re:source
Note: Please reference AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation Program policies and procedures online for official guidance on this, and other topics.
Transcription is auto-generated.
[Theme music fades in.]
00:00:02 ANNOUNCER: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials testing and inspection with people in the know. From exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you. Now here’s our host, Brian Johnson.
00:00:22 BRIAN: Welcome to AASHTO Resource Q&A. I am Brian Johnson.
00:00:26 KIM: And I'm Kim Swanson, welcome to Part 2 of Soft Skills Goal Setting. [BRIAN: That's right.] If you haven't heard Part 1 yet, I recommend you take a listen but it isn't necessary. We did cover some general topics about just personal goal setting. In this episode, we're going to get into a fundable exercise because I have a list of brainstorming questions. When you're thinking about your personal goals. I'm going to share what those are. It's a list of eight of them, and I want to see how we would or how you would spend that for our organizational goals, program goals or your employee staff goals and see if that question when you're thinking about it. If it needs to be tweaked or if it's good as is or is, if it's not relevant at all because
just curious because I'd like to ask these questions. The first question I think we talked about it before, but what is important to me about this goal? How would you spend that as an for an organization or for individuals for team?
00:01:28 BRIAN: What is important to me, like me, the employee.
00:01:31 KIM: About accomplishment. From a individual standpoint and not a business goals, it is about me as an individual. So would you spin that question if you're brainstorming like thinking about how to a new goals to create, would it be what's important to the organization about this goal or accomplishment.?
00:01:53 BRIAN: No, I.
00:01:53 KIM: Or is it still about the individual?
00:01:55 BRIAN: I think it still is the same question because I feel like if it's not important to the employee.
00:01:58 KIM: OK.
00:02:03 BRIAN: Then they're not going to be motivated to get there. And I I this is where it goes back to hiring.
00:02:06 KIM: OK.
00:02:09 BRIAN: You can't hire people who have mismatched like completely mismatched values. Because if I if I hired a bunch of people who were totally. Selfish. They wouldn't. Be thinking, well, what's important to the customer? It's important to me because I want to make sure our customers are having a good experience, right. So like, that's important to me, even though it's important to somebody else and I like people like that on my team. Mm-hmm. So it's still important.
00:02:34 KIM: OK so.
00:02:35 BRIAN: I might be cheating on that answer. I'm not.
00:02:37 KIM: That's OK, there might. I haven't necessarily thought of these questions from an organizational perspective. So there, there could be just a direct overlap and this is a segment that I cut or it could be something useful. So the next question for brainstorming goals is how will this help me create the life that I want? So that's the personal side of it. If you're going to use that as a jumping off brainstorming, how would you change that question or what would you ask differently? In that same vein, if you're creating a goal for your team or for your program.
00:03:14 BRIAN: Yeah, I'd say, how will this help improve the quality of the of the organization? I think I'd go beyond the individual on that one.
00:03:21 KIM: Yeah. If I'm thinking about it now, it could also be tied to your vision statement. Like how does this help us create your vision statement of the organization? If you're thinking about that, that was just popped in my head because again, I have not really thought of. These in that. Way this one I think it would probably be a direct overlap, but the next one is how does this support my other goals? Because I know that's really important from a personal goal standpoint.
00:03:50 BRIAN: I think that would tie into the mission question. You know, how does this, how does this contribute to us achieving the mission of the organization?
00:03:58 KIM: Yeah. And from a personal standpoint, when you're making personal goals, this question is important because you don't want your goals to have conflicting outcomes, right? So you want all of your goals to support your personal mission statement or where you want your life to be. So I think in a business sense that you also want all of your goals. You don't want someone on your team working towards a goal that achieves X, but then X is the direct opposition to. Why and then you have somebody else on your team working on. Why? And then you're just going to counteract each other. So you want to make sure all of the. Goals are working together.
00:04:35 BRIAN: You would and I find that we have that push and pull all the time on certain quality objectives and which is why a lot of them are not 100% all the time. So even though it would make sense, like if somebody says Ohh well you want to be the best, your goal should be 100% you know complete 100% have 100% error free and it's like, well, yeah, I would love it if we had 100% here free, but it comes at a cost because I could spend all of my time working on one thing or I could spend a little less time getting it 95%, right and then getting other things done that also need to be done. So then like, if you spend all your time on. File reduction. Then you reduce productivity, which you can't really do.
00:05:19 KIM: Yeah, no. That makes sense to me.
00:05:21 BRIAN: But I don't know if that's that may be not related to what you were talking. About at all.
00:05:25 KIM: No, I think that is related. The next question. I ask or have people think about is I think something we've already talked about as well, but how does this align with my values? I think that is organizational values, can it just fits right in there?
00:05:39 BRIAN: Yeah, that's that does fit right in there.
00:05:41 KIM: Now this goes to kind of a measurable part of a SMART goal, but how will I know when I I have reached my goal?
00:05:48 BRIAN: Well, that gets into your SMART goals, right? Measurable. Time bound. Relevant.
00:05:58 KIM: Whatever that acronym is, I think as well. Another way to think of it is defining success, because sometimes it's not only the one thing that you're talking about, it's more multifaceted. So the goal is to have 95% error free, whatever, but then you've reached it. Yes, you know, you reach it when you got 95%. But also there's these other things that come out of it, like you were talking about with your personal goal of. When you ran 3 miles at a certain time, there was all these other benefits that you didn't really think about. But if you were defining success now, you would maybe incorporate that in.
00:06:39 BRIAN: Yeah. And if if it was just lose weight, I would have achieved none of that. I would have just been weighing less and my I would have had to buy new pants. But I wouldn't have been in shape. You know, I wouldn't have, uh, improved my. Heart health at all or I wouldn't have been more coordinated, wouldn't have gotten stronger. So yeah, I mean, it's definitely better to think about those behavioral changes.
00:07:05 KIM: Talk about getting stronger. Another question that I asked in a brainstorm session is how can I use my strength to accomplish this?
00:07:13 BRIAN: Goal. I like that question a lot and it is something you know when you're a manager, you do have to think about individual strengths.
00:07:21 BRIAN: Because everybody has something different and I think you do have to. If you want to be an effective manager and I know I never went to Harvard Business School or anything. So you probably could read much more insightful stories from somebody else. But I would say I've gotten pretty good responses from people that I've managed over the years. And I think treating people as individuals is the key to that and recognizing what they're really good at and recognizing what they need to work on to improve. And trying to leverage the things that they are really good and really interested at and not expecting them to be people that they are not. And I I do credit a lot of that to some of my fellow managers and fellow employees at Asda resource for kind of talking through a lot of those things. I think it might have been you asked me. About whether it was important that somebody become good at a certain thing that we were doing. You know it. Does everybody need to be good at public speaking?
00:08:22 KIM: It wasn't me, but it sounds like something. It sounds like something I would say, or maybe it was and I just don't.
00:08:22 BRIAN: Wasn't you? But everybody has their different strengths and if you can get people to be appreciated for those things, even when they fall short in other areas, and this is the hard part, usually when somebody on your team falls short in an area their teammates know it, and you may even hear about it from some of them, but I think what you have to do is emphasize that person's strengths, and maybe in an ideal situation, the person criticizing that person may have a weakness that the other person has a strength in, and you can directly say, listen. I get it, but let me tell you about what this person is really strong in and you don't have to say you're not good at. But this person is, but that person knows that they're not good at it. That can help kind of moderate any potential conflicts you have within a team where you have one person that may be weak in a certain area while the other is strong, but you don't have to make everybody the same. Don't act like everybody has to be you and maybe you have some things to work on as a manager or as a human.
00:09:30 BRIAN: And your staff will know that too. And if you're a really good manager, you'll talk to them about that and they will tell you what those things are without any concern. You know, that's another thing I feel really good about as manager is that we, I have those conversations with staff and we talked very openly about. About what we're good at, what we're not good at and those tell me when I'm wrong about something and it's really healthy for the organization because it's not the Brian Johnson accreditation program. It's the Ashe accreditation program. And I don't know everything, they don't know everything. I mean really nobody does. You have to use the systems that you have in the. In the organizations and the people that you have to work with to try to continue to improve all the time. But it's not something that you can just think about. What you're good at or what your strengths are and kind of make everything work the way you want them to work. Sorry, that was completely rambling and and touched many bases that may have not gotten us home.
00:10:25 KIM: Ohh no It did. No, that's OK. I am definitely a fan of strengths. There's a lot of different tools out there that if you want to identify your strengths that you can use and you can search for those and I think. Having a vocabulary about what your strengths are is very helpful from a personal standpoint and creating personal goals, but also in work right of knowing that I have a strength in one of mine is strategic. I have AI can think strategically and see a few steps down the road. Sometimes that is awesome. Other times that is a hindrance where I'm. 12 Steps down the road, everybody is still on step three. I'm on step 20 in my head anyway, and I'm just like, why aren't people like I that can lead me to be impatient? So knowing that this is a strength of mine, there's also the dark side of it, right of when it is not necessarily a strength of mine or another one.
00:11:30 KIM: Communicator, shockingly, is one of my strengths as well, but that means I can tend to over communicate things. Knowing that about myself can help me recognize when it's serving me and when it is not serving me, and it also gives me more empathy for my teammates to know that, like I know I'm really good at these things and that everybody is really good at these. Things. So I have like. Oh, what are they really good at? And what are their strengths? And that I can lean on them for support in those areas. When I'm working on a project or doing something like that, so I definitely think there is value in having shared. Vocabulary when it comes to individual strengths on a team, so I again, I could talk about strength for a whole. Episode, but we won't the. Next question I ask for around brainstorming. Is what do I need to do before I start the goal.
00:12:30 BRIAN: Hmm, that is interesting. That is your planning. I guess when I think about that, that would be sort of the analysis that that is conducted before we have one of those sessions. Where we're establishing what our goals are going to be for the year and that is really important. You do have to know what your baseline is before you set a goal cause, otherwise you're going to have an unrealistic goal, right?
00:12:53 KIM: That makes perfect sense. And now this last one is one of my favorites personal favorites, am I ready to make this change? I've seen this pop up personally a lot of time.
00:13:04 BRIAN: That's funny.
00:13:06 KIM: But also as an organization, I mean we I've been with AASHTO for a while. And I have perhaps seen some starts of things of like, are we ready to make this change or to start this goal or or something like that? So I I have seen it from both sides. That's my generally my favorite question.
00:13:28 BRIAN: Why would you want to encumber yourself with such trivialities as whether you should do whatever you're going to do? It's so funny that you comment on this, because this resonates with me as well for the same reason. We have a lot of good ideas and we have a lot of OK ideas that we go forward with and sometimes some bad ideas. At times we have gone for all of them at the same time with not enough people or other resources to get those things accomplished. So I think having that discussion. About whether you're ready to actually do that at this time is a very good thing to do, so I'll go back to that meeting where you're talking about what your goals are going to be. It's good to have a brainstorming meeting and come up with a bunch of ideas, but then you really have to, and I think this is where the director kind of steps in or the manager.
00:14:22 BRIAN: Person let's figure out where the cuts going to be here. So like there are some of these things that are probably, yeah, probably OK to do. Probably a good thing, but can wait and these things are really important and should be done sooner. So then you prioritize whatever those are and you figure out what are you going to do. What are you going to leave off? What are you going to focus on this year? What can be put off to 2024? 2025 So yeah that I think that's a good thing. And I'll tell you another thing that this reminds me of this change management, which we have more than dipped our toes and change management over the years. We have gone all in. And probably too much. So where we have in some ways kind of paralyzed ourselves from making changes. I don't know. So it depends how you look at it. If you look at our change management spreadsheet, we probably have too much on there.
00:15:17 BRIAN: Because we didn't have that discussion all the time about whether we should do this or not. So we'd say, OK. Hey, Kim, you're going to be the change manager on this one. Go ahead and get it done. Because you came up with this idea, but you'll never interact with whoever told you that again until you're done with it or just never gets done. And then you just talk about it for the next four years, about how you didn't do it and you keep kicking the can down the road. Does that sound about right?
00:15:44 KIM: Yeah, well it does. But, and I still think when it comes to that, I think there's different ideas of change management where you said you there's too much on that spreadsheet where I look at the change management spreadsheet and for me, it's part of there should be more on it that we haven't done and we need to document why we didn't do it. Where? That's the lens that I come through with that like, I would want to know. All of the things that we decided that we didn't do, so we have a record of that. So when it comes up in three years that we should do it like, well, let's not reinvent the wheel. This is why we didn't do it before. All right, well, that's has changed and now we can do it or whatever it is. So I feel like there should be more going through the change management process. But it should be, but the as is. I don't know if it's as effective as it could be for. Us and I think we're make improvements in that area.
00:16:38 BRIAN: I think we can compromise on this concept. I I agree that it's not after hearing that what you just said, it's not the quantity that's on there that concerns me. It's the fact that we haven't said no strategically to any of those things. So I don't object to them.
00:16:55 KIM: That yes, yes.
00:16:58 BRIAN: Existing on the spreadsheet, it's that they are still.
00:17:00 KIM: OK. When it shouldn't, they should just be. We're not doing it right now.
00:17:04 BRIAN: They should have been. We're not doing that right now or this is a OK idea that can be put off for 10 years. And then let's look at it again to. See if we actually care about it.
00:17:13 KIM: I would agree with that, so I'm glad. I'm glad we've come to that conclusion. For all of our listeners.
00:17:16 BRIAN: Yeah, I think so. That helped me, that helped me.
00:17:18 KIM: I'm glad for all of our listeners to hear this this session, this session with us. It's not even an episode anymore. It's. Just now a session.
00:17:28 BRIAN: It's just a session, yeah.
00:17:29 KIM: The session? Well, I'm glad this was helpful for you. I hope it was helpful for our listeners. Let us know what you think. Send us an e-mail.
00:17:31 BRIAN: Well, I feel better.
00:17:40 KIM: Or don't. That's fine too. I can talk about goals all the time and strengths forever, so hopefully people got something out of it. It sounds like you did, Brian.
00:17:52 BRIAN: I did this has been therapeutic and interesting for me, so I'm glad we talked about it today. Hope you enjoyed it listeners and we'll see you on the next podcast.
[Theme music fades in.]
00:18:03 ANNOUNCER: Thanks for listening to AASHTO re: source Q & A. If you'd like to be a guest or just submit a question, send us an email at email@example.com or call Brian at 240-436-4820. For other news and related content, check out AASHTO re:source's social media accounts or go to aashtoresource.org.