Paul Butler: Achieving your goals

Paul Butler

It’s my birthday today.

A few years back, I wrote up a list inspired by The Beatles song of the same name and headed it: “When I’m 64.”

I still have a good few years to go, but this list of bullets enables me to shoot straight toward my goals. If, Lord willing, I hit all those targets, I believe they’ll be a “win” for others around me, too.

See, my list of goals is not just about me. I’ve categorized them under three headings — live well, love well and bless the lives of others.

Therein lies my first key learning over the years about setting and achieving worthwhile goals at work — it’s not all about you. My observation has been organizations that serve their customers exceptionally well, and bring out the best of their employees in the process, measure themselves using a more balanced scorecard than just the almighty dollar.

Robert Kaplan and David Norton first formulated the concept of a balanced scorecard about 30 years ago, and I only wish we’d see it more often in today’s working world. The balanced scorecard is an interesting way of looking at the significance and the sustainability of business. At the heart of the balanced scorecard are four core measures — profitability, quality of service, employee satisfaction and innovation. There are other variations but these are the essential elements.

Although Kaplan and Norton were innovators in this field, their ideas were not new. Many entrepreneurs and industrialists of yesteryear had the foresight to see that profitability was really just the fruit that fell from a well-nourished tree — the nutrients being quality of service given by satisfied employees who constantly refine the way they do their work through innovation.

This past weekend while moving house, my wife and I used old English phrases meaning something to us but meaning nothing to our American friends. One of these little ditties was: “Let the dog see the rabbit.” We use it when we need someone to show us what we’re shooting for — whether that’s an angle we’re trying to take up the stairs while carrying a couch or if, for example, we need more light on the situation to be able to hammer a nail.

Therein lies my second key learning over the years about setting and achieving worthwhile goals at work — people must be able to understand the jargon and visualize the goal. My observation has been employees are more likely to do what you want them to do when you speak plainly and they can see how their work contributes toward the desired goal.

I worked in the hotel industry for many years and, when we implemented the balanced scorecard, we created easy-to-understand visual trackers for each department — the idea being: Someone should be able to glance at the scoreboard and, within a split second, know what the score is. In effect, they were seeing how close “the dog was to the rabbit.”

We purchased a box of bagels as a “thank you” for our friends who were kind enough to give up some of their day to help us move. People arrived promptly at the agreed hour, and I figured we’d start on the bagels. Interestingly, my friends wanted to finish filling the truck before filling their bellies.

Therein lies my third key learning over the years about setting and achieving worthwhile goals at work — people like to be rewarded for a job well done … when the work is done. I used to be an employee for a company where the mindset of the managing director was that everyone, regardless of position should be able to earn a 10% bonus on top of their paycheck for performance that went over and beyond but the reward was always given at year-end.

That’s what always baffles me about golden handshakes that welcome an executive before they even start work with a hefty signing-on bonus. Even more surprising is the golden goodbyes when that same executive leaves behind an economic disaster largely due to their inaptitude, only to be waved off into the sunset with boxes and boxes and boxes of bagels.

So, in summary, I believe organizations will do well if they measure performance by a more balanced scorecard; clearly communicate actual results and reward discretionary effort that “goes the extra mile,” as a great man once said.

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].

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