5 Mistakes Managers Make When Setting Goals

5 Mistakes Managers Make When Setting Goals

Here are five easily avoidable goal setting mistakes that managers make.

5 Mistakes Managers Makes When Setting Goals

1. Not spending enough time on the goal-setting conversation

We, at Actuate Microlearning, have noticed managers treating the goal-setting exercise as a mere formality, rushing through the exercise, or using emails to share goals with their team members. As a result, you have team members:

  1. Unclear about the exact expectations that the organisation has of them
  2. Unable to get their doubts and questions clarifications

2. Not explaining the ‘why’ behind goals (especially those goals that have been newly introduced)

A failure to explain the reasoning behind the goals that the organisation has set itself for the year leaves team members clueless about the business case, logic or the ‘doability’ behind the organisation’s decisions.

Consequently, team members find the tough goals set to be draconian, and their motivation to give their all towards achieving these soon dissipates.

3. Neglecting the ‘how’ and the ‘when’ of the goals

Not breaking each goal into its component tasks, nor establishing clear timelines and deadlines for the tasks and goals, leaves team members unsure about how exactly they can go about meeting these goals.

Non-achievement of goals, a compromise in quality scores and missed timelines are the consequence.

4. ‘Cascading’ goals to the whole team at one go

The goal setting exercise requires the manager to spend time one-on-one with team members:

  1. Clarifying goals (and tasks and deadlines)
  2. Resolving fears and doubts
  3. Identifying obstacles to goal achievement
  4. Defining workarounds to these obstacles

Managers, we at Actuate Microlearning have noted, often however simply call for a team meeting where goals are ‘cascaded’ to everyone together, with very little time allotted to deal with individual queries, doubts and challenges that team members may experience.

As a result, the doubts, mistakes and impediments that prevented goal achievement the last time around will continue to be stumbling blocks this time around, too.

5. Ignoring unethical behaviour that stringent goals can drive people to

When goals are tough to attain, the temptation to resort to questionable short-cuts, unethical behaviour or actions contrary to the organisation’s value system can be tempting for individuals.

Managers often fail to warn team members against these, thereby risking the organisation’s images and coffers as a consequence.

To learn more about goal setting, please view our Slideshow

8 Tips to Designing Rockstar Presentations

8 Tips to Designing Rockstar Presentations

Ever wonder what goes into presentations that floor the audience? Would you like to be that presenter
that has the audience hanging on to every word That says ?

8 TIPS To Help you Develop Rock Star Presentations

1. Craft a big-bang opening

There’s nothing more boring than, “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I am here to present on XYZ”.

Yawn! “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I am here to present on XYZ”. Instead, look to grab your audience by the collar from the get-go.


Here’s an illustration:


Attention-grabbing opening! “95% of the population will be unable to sustain themselves in their retirement years. Are you part of this demographic?”




Boring opening! “Welcome to the investor education presentation brought to you by XYZ, India’s largest investment advice company.”

2. Let your audience know that you know what they want …

… enumerate these wants, and then mention that you will be addressing these in your presentation.


You will now have your audience’s undivided attention.

3. BLUF (Bottom-Line-Up-Front)

Give your key takeaways upfront and then tell your audience how you arrived at that main point/ justify your main points.


No one has the patience to wait until the end to hear your key conclusions or points, which are often the only thing that they want to hear from you in the first place.


Of course, you might not always want to BLUF. However, in most presentations, this is recommended.

4. Section your presentation

Sectioning is breaking up your presentation content into bite-sized sections.


Demarcate the sections in your presentation. Verbalise, when you have completed one section and are moving to the next in your presentation, Sectioning, works like coffee beans do when you test perfumes. It helps your audience’s brain chunk newer information/ data into separate mental buckets.


5. Add frequent recaps

Your audience will mostly forget what was said earlier in your presentation when their brain registers newer chunks of information. So, recap the points that you have covered in a section at its end. Recap your key messages at the end of your presentation before delivering a call to action, if any.  Adding regular recaps helps you show continuity between points and build a more coherent narrative.

6. Ensure brevity

Say as much as you need to; not a word more (or less). This will help you avoid the TL-DL (*too long, didn’t listen) problem.


Simplify your communication to amplify its impact.

7. Add hooks

Three things you need to bear in mind (if you want to deliver a rock-star presentation):

  1. A serious presentation need not mean a boring presentation
  2. You must keep your audience hooked for the length of the presentation
  3. You must simplify your content for your audience to understand you


So, use ‘hooks’ in your presentation (and use them liberally, though prudently, throughout your presentation)


Here’s a list of hooks that you can use to meet the above mentione ends:

  1. Analogies/Metaphors
  2. Visually striking slides
  3. Video clips
  4. Humour
  5. Provocative questions
  6. Activity
  7. Demos
  8. Props
  9. Speak their language


Of course, you will need to use those that are pertinent to your presentation.

8. Connect the dots

Often, only the presenter knows: how the various points presented, link-up or flow (the connection between the rationale provided and the inference arrived at).


The audience is left scratching their head about the ‘connections’ or ‘flow’ in the presentation. So, connect the dots (make the connections and the flow between your points, absolutely clear).



Implement the best practices listed above, and you will have laid the groundwork for a rockstar presentation.

9 Success Mantras

9 Success Mantras

Nine behaviours that will propel every young professional to career and personal success.

9 Success Mantras – The young professional’s guide to personal and professional success  

1. Do the Smart Things (and Do Things Smartly!)

"I used to work extremely hard and didn't achieve a lot of tangible things. But when I started
working extremely smart, the gates of abundant blessings opened up for me."
―Edmond Mbiaka (Entrepreneur, Author)

There is no substitute for hard work. But there's no point in aimless grinding. So, do the smart things and do things smartly …you'll achieve more. And work smartly on smart things.

2. Outwork Others

"If you're the underdog, your only chance of winning requires expending maximum effort. Outworking
is a tall order; it's not easy to do. That's why most people will not play that way because
it's too difficult – that's the reality of it all."
― Malcolm Gladwell (Author)

Eschew outworking others, and you'll go through the motions, Blend with the mediocre and you will finally fade into oblivion. Hard work beats talent if talent does not work hard.

3. Cultivate Patience

"He that can have patience can have what he will."
― Benjamin Franklin (Founding Father of the United States)

It's ridiculously rare that you will receive:
1. Promotions
2. Pay hikes…
---every few months.
It takes a ridiculous amount of hard work and unrelenting patience to succeed'. Someday, you will gain perspective on how your current (mundane) work makes a difference. Success requires the delay of instant gratification and doing something harder Your efforts will reap rich dividends over a timeframe you have no control over. (There's no shortcut). Be very Patient!

4. Build Resilience

"The mundane and the sacred are one and the same."
― Alan Watts (Philosopher)

Mundane tasks:
1. Have incredible value
2. Lead to long-term success and payoffs,
3. Essential for proper day-to-day functioning
Mining the mundane is the path to mastery. Real-life happens in the mundane.
The mundane is not a setback. It is a rite of passage.

5. Manage Work Relations with Prudence

"When I work, my first relationship with people is professional."
― Bill Murray (Actor, Filmmaker, Writer)

Employees with high-quality peer relationships are:
1. More likely to receive effective mentoring and guidance,
2. Better informed in the office space,
3. Have greater access to networks of support
Invest in developing workplace relationships. No matter how benign your intent, everyone has the right to set their boundaries and have them respected.

6. Learn How to Regulate Emotions

"To be aware of your own emotions and to learn how to self-regulate those, is an important
part of any kind of management of the intuitive or sensitive nature."
― Heidi Sawyer (Director, Institute of Psychic Development)

Failure to regulate your emotions will cost you, one way or another. And, there might be no second chances on offer. Control your emotions (Don't be a slave to them)

7. Challenge the Status Quo

"Status quo, you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in."
― Ronald Reagan

For the young millennial, to challenge the status quo at work is tantamount to taking the bull by its horns. Want to challenge the status quo? Link the proposed change to business metrics. Want to challenge the status quo? Practice tact in speech. Want to challenge the status quo? Practice patience! See change as a marathon, not a sprint (Sometimes, deferring a conversation to a more suitable time, may help)

8. Get Noticed

"If your presence doesn't make an impact, your absence won't make a difference."
― Trey Smith (Author – Crushing Hyper Casual Games)

Your hard work needs a face to go with it. And that's up to you.

9. Serve Your Network

"The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity."
― Trey Smith (Author – Crushing Hyper Casual Games)

The essence of networking is serving others. First, you give, then you get. Be a giver at work, Share your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas and connections with other people, so that they can benefit from them.

What People Look for in Leaders

What People Look for in Leaders

What are traits that people admire most in leaders?

It is an important question to consider. One with probable emotional implications as well.

Our own research into the topic brought forth some interesting inferences. Here’s where we’ll share these findings with you.

For convenience, our list of attributes that people look for in leaders can be divided into character traits and leadership behaviours. This could serve as a ready reckoner that could be used for self-evaluation every once in a while.

If research is to be trusted, we’d say it’s safe to assume that this is probably what your team members would find admirable in leadership figures too.

The traits most desired in leaders

1. Honesty:

It is what sociologists and communication experts term as ‘soaiturce credibility’.

If people are to trust in and follow a leader’s word, they must see the leader as being inherently honest and trustworthy. Leadership experts have found that honesty is universally, the most important trait of effective leaders in all walks of life, be they military generals or class monitors. Honesty reflects aspects of a strong moral compass and integrity of character.

Leaders build trust by nurturing truthfulness, forthrightness, and integrity – all positive and righteous attributes which demonstrate honesty.  This trust is essential for developing subordinates who, fuelled by this trust, tend to remain committed to the leader’s vision and mission. Employees are most loyal and enthusiastic when they work in an environment governed by trust and the trustworthy; meaning, honesty is the bedrock on which effective leader-subordinate relationships are built.

On the flip side, lack of honesty seriously diminishes a leader’s ability to influence, inspire and by extension, lead. No one trusts such leaders with anything significant.

In the words of Carol Sawdye, vice chairman and CFO of PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Leadership means setting your moral compass in the direction you know is right, even if it’s difficult or unpopular.”

At the risk of spouting clichés, honesty IS indeed the best policy!  It pays off in customer relations, community relations and for the world at large.

Ask Yourself: If your team were to maintain a running log of all your words and actions, how high/low would they rate you on honesty today?

2. Credibility

In leadership, credibility is everything.

If people don’t believe in the messenger, they won’t believe in the message.  Numerous studied have concurred on the importance of the leader’s credibility in ensuring that the team buys into and follows the leader’s vision, mission and goals.

What exactly builds credibility?

In short, walking-the-talk. When you make promises, keep to them. If you expect people to do it, do it yourself too. If you make a rule, follow it yourself.

Model the behavior that you want your people to display, and you will build the kind of credibility that the most admired leaders have. And, needless to say, but such leaders are the ones whom people follow; who can inspire and get the best out of their people.

Ask Yourself: Would your team, or people who work closely with you, say that you walk the talk always?

The Behaviours Practiced by Leaders Most Admired by People

1. Inspires and motivates people through a vision

Harbingers of possibilities that did not exist before, the most admired leaders are driven by positive intent aligned with a higher purpose.  Great leaders are able to articulate a shared vision for the team in a way that inspires others to follow.  They offer a picture of a future that is so compelling that it makes coming to work every day exciting for their people.

Narayana Murthy, founder of the multibillion-dollar software and IT services firm Infosys, is an example of how a visionary leader proved to everyone that Indian companies were ready to compete with the best in the world.

A point to note: The vision that we speak of next, is not the vision for your personal life. Rather, we are referring to the vision that you have identified and shared with the team/ organisation that you lead.

Ask yourself:  What is your vision for your team?  Does everyone on your team believe in this vision and are motivated to work towards it?

2. Empowers people (Coaches; does not micro-manage)

The ‘hands-on’ manager, often simply a euphemism for a tyrant, who is constantly getting people to be on their toes, barking orders, demanding a gazillion MIS reports, doing daily team huddles, belittling those who fail, might have been considered (wrongly!) the epitome of a great leader, at some time in the past.

Truth be told, it rarely worked then and it rarely works now. Sure, you need to be hands-on with newcomers and those unskilled. So, if that is what your team is like, then by all means be hands-on. Just don’t be a tyrant, though.

The best leaders around are those that are known to equip and empower team members to achieve stretch goals. Research confirms what we might have known intuitively at some level: people perform best, when they handle stretch goals, but only if they are equipped with the requisite knowledge and skill sets to meet that goal.

The best leaders take it upon themselves to ensure that people are equipped, thus.

They also enable people to work with freedom and autonomy, while being available to help, should they be required. They display an inherent trust in people; leaders let people know they trust them, and people do their best to live up to this placed trust.

Leadership, based on an inherent trust in people is the antithesis of the control freak, micro-managing boss. It is one of the practices of leaders most admired by one and all.

Ask yourself:  How would your team rate you on the following parameters?

  1. Your tendency to help them master their skills
  2. The amount of freedom that they have, to choose how they will work
  3. Your trust in them

3. Has an intense focus on – and drives for – results

To put it really crudely – don’t be a sissy. You’d do well to understand you are certainly not going to get far, if all you want is to be liked and admired. In fact, very soon you will lose your team’s respect if this is all you bank on.

Maintain an intense focus on results. Keep the team moving forward. Use your authority and power to remove roadblocks that hinder goal achievement. And no, that does not entail being the tyrannical boss straight out of hell itself. You can be results focused, while being respectful and fair.

Allow people to freely choose how they will work, do not define how they should work. But once they have shared their plan, hold them accountable to it. Focus on and ensure deadlines and quality standards are met.

Ask yourself:  Are you results focused? Do you maintain a strict vigilance over deadlines and quality standards, without being boorish or arrogant?

4. Communicates clearly and regularly

Communication is a two-way street. Great leaders are great listeners and they also state what they have to, early, clearly and in a way that ensures that by the end of what they have to say, people feel empowered and energized to move forward.

That is the key, really. Once communication is all done with, people feel empowered and energized to move forward.

Also, listen to people’s concerns and struggles. You may not always have the answers or the solutions, but listening and empathizing help you develop an emotional connect with your team.

And, as we pointed out at the start, emotional connect is what employee engagement is all about.

Ask yourself:  Would your team say that you listen to them? Would they say that you communicate clearly, early and in a way that leaves them energized and empowered to move forward?

5. Helps People Grow in their career

Are you aware of what your individual team members’ career aspirations are? What have you done to help them grow in their careers? What plans, if any, do you have in place to help them grow? Have you jointly – along with each team member of yours – chartered a career progression plan to help them grow?

These are questions that you would do well to answer. The best leaders, research shows, ponder upon and do their best to find answers to these.

Ask yourself:  When was the last time a subordinate thanked you for helping them grow in their career?

Develop Technical Competence

Technical competence is definitely important, but in most studies it ranks between eight and ten on a ten-point scale in terms of importance.

You need to possess it, it allows you to provide the right sort of solutions to people’s challenges.

However, it is probably not the most critically important attribute that a leader needs to have. But do not neglect it either. It is important.

So by all means, do develop functional competence, but remember to put it in proper perspective and context. Focus on the two traits and four behaviours that we shared in this lesson, more than you would on your technical competence.

In Conclusion

Here, in a nutshell, are the two traits and the five behaviours that research has shown characterise leaders, who are most admired by their team members. Remember, that being admired is an important pre-requisite for engagement.

The top two character traits of a leader, who is admired by team members

  1. Trust and honesty
  2. Walks the talk; models the way

The five behaviours that leaders, who are most admired, practice

  1. Inspires and motivates people through a vision
  2. Equips and empowers people (Coaches; does not micro-manage)
  3. Drives for results
  4. Communicates clearly and regularly
  5. Helps people grow in their career

Also, develop the requisite degree of technical or functional competence.

No leader is without weakness; the key lies in awareness of self and then making a conscious effort to develop the right traits and the right behaviours. Remember, self-awareness and the ability to choose our actions are two attributes that make humans unique and different from all other creatures on this earth.

Free eBook Download

Beyond Employee Engagement

How managers can get employees to love coming
in to and give their work their 100%

. //Disable PrintScreen