Why Setting Behavioral Goals Matters

Importance of Behavioral Goals

When it comes to goal-setting, we often prioritize quantifiable performance areas that can be easily measured. We focus on metrics such as the number of processed grant applications, response rates to call volumes, and support provided to students or alumnae. While these goals are valid and necessary for tracking team output, they fail to address the importance of developing and changing behaviors that are essential for overall departmental success.

Many staff members and their managers find it easier to measure performance goals, but struggle to discuss the development of behavioral goals. These behavioral goals encompass areas such as oral and written communications, peer relationships and partnering, conflict management, and more.

Behavioral goals serve to reinforce positive actions and modify behavior in areas that require refocus, development, or sustained change. They are a crucial component for achieving performance goals and maintaining a culture of excellence at Yale.

Crafting Behavioral Goals

Although writing behavioral goals may initially seem challenging, they can be just as simple to draft, convey, and achieve. To create impactful behavioral goals, it is crucial to describe the desired outcome with utmost clarity. The more descriptive and vivid the behavioral expectation, the more likely staff members are to meet the target objective. This accurate approach to describing behavioral goals significantly increases the chances of success.

Image sourced from 5 WS

Let’s take a look at two examples of behavioral goals that support oral and written feedback as well as conflict management:

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Goal 1: Increase effectiveness in email communication (written communication)
Goal 2: Enhance meeting facilitation skills (verbal communication)

For Goal 1, the staff member aims to apply a collaborative, timely, respectful, and effective approach to email communication, particularly in conflict situations. Meanwhile, for Goal 2, the staff member strives to improve communication skills by running efficient project meetings. These meetings should be time-efficient, have appropriate team members in attendance, follow the published agenda, and ensure prompt follow-up on action items.

Critical Importance of Behavioral Goals

Achieving these behavioral goals brings about significant benefits. For Goal 1, it strengthens peer relationships, enhances collaborative efforts across campus, and creates consistency in communication style and approach. Regarding Goal 2, improving meeting facilitation skills bolsters leadership effectiveness and credibility with peers. It also drives project management efforts forward, fosters active listening, and encourages open sharing of thoughts and ideas.

Measurement and Timeline

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To measure these behavioral goals, observation and feedback from others are key. The timeline for achieving these goals is set for FY21.

It is important to note that while goals need to be measurable, quantifying behavioral goals can be challenging. Typically, behaviorally-based goals are assessed through observation and feedback. For instance, an increase in in-person meetings or a decrease in client complaints about email communications could be indicators of progress.

When setting behavioral goals, consider what support is necessary to reinforce or change behavior. Mentorship, coaching, training, or outside interventions may be required to ensure success. Realistic timeframes should be established, taking into account these factors.

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Driving a Culture of Excellence

Image sourced from 5 WS

Setting behavioral goals is not only a management coaching and feedback best practice, but it is also crucial for organizations of all sizes and industries. By prioritizing behavioral goals, organizations elevate performance to new heights and enhance overall cultural dimensions within the workplace.

To learn more about Yale’s performance management process and the goal-setting phase of its cycle, visit 5 WS.

Remember, behavioral goals play a vital role in personal development and contribution to the overall success of an organization. Start setting impactful behavioral goals today and witness the positive impact they have on your professional journey.

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