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Too much theory…?!


Hi All,

Hoping you can help me (again!)

I am putting together a training session on setting targets (SMART, shared vision, etc). 

Training already exists in the form of workshops etc, but I am now building a 12 week module with a new element every 2 weeks distributed down by Senior Management to their people managers (webinar wk 1 explaining module hosted by Senior Leader, Wk 3 Leadership video distributed to people mgrs, wk 5 2 hr workshop or e-learning, wk 7 'tools and techniques/cheatsheet distributed, wk 9 task, wk 11 open 'townhall discussion' with other people managers in team).

There will be 4 modules a year. Covering different topics.

The problem arises with this particular topic in the fact that we have 1% completion for appraisals this year - 18,500 people), managers are not bonussed on retention/ team development etc, neither is it a KPI for their own appraisal.

I am trying to find some data to use to express the importance and the impact of setting targets.  I have calculated recruitment costs due to attrition (too many 000's...!)

In an old training manual, I found the following....

"Setting targets increases the probability of achieving objectives from 5% to 70%", "Setting targets increases productivity by an average of 19%"  I can not find a reference for these figures!

The audience are Level 3 possibly 4 in the company (scale 1 - 6, 6 is CEO). 

Any thoughts (on any of the above!) would be most welcomed!

Thanks from a frazzled Fraggle!

3 Responses

  1. so how about practical?

    Dear Fraggle

    so….setting a target is reported to increase the likelihood of achieving objectives from 5% to 70%….this sounds like a piece of data discovered by the University of the Flipping Obvious…….

    if you don’t set a target then the likelihood of it being achieved is entirely chance

    if you set a target the likelihood of hitting it is clearly far greater

    Practical demonstration;

    Before delegates arrive put the waste paper bin on a table at the front of the room and put a piece of scrap paper at each delegate seat.

    Begin your training event

    About an hour in, express disappointment that the delegates have failed to achieve their objective.  When they ask what you are talking about show them a slide with a SMART objective to get 100% of the scrap paper into the waste paper basket without leaving their seats before a certain time (which has just passed).

    Point out that without being set a target they have failed 100% to fulfill their objective.

    Now tell them that with the objective in mind they can now attempt to achieve it with a new time limit.

    Quite a few will succeed in getting their scrap paper into the bin, either by screwing it up and tossing or by making a paper plane and throwing it or by passing it to someone closer.

    Point out that with a target they now have achieved a XX% success rate.

    You can then build on this with regard to their motivation….sweeties for hitting the target… break for those failing to hit it!

    This is a practical option if you are suffering from too much theory

    I hope this helps


    (PS you also should be having a conversation with senior managers; how can you appraise a manager on his her management ability if you make no KPI relating to the appraisal or development of their staff?….see my book People Management Secrets from HarperCollins, chapters 3,4,5,6&7!)

    Feel free to PM me or get in touch if you want to discuss this further


  2. Stating the blooming obvious 🙂

    Thanks Russ,

    I will shamelessly steal your idea of the target/waste paper bin etc!

    As a highlight to the challenge here, one Managers response to a Senior Leader when asked about his team’s development etc, was ‘I don’t get paid to manage’! Naturally it’s part of the JD’s for Managers, but they are numbers/sales focussed (why I thought using numbers to highlight the importance of appraisals).  A huge culture change is needed! 

    My manager is very theory based (ex-McKinsey consultant….), so I am trying to appease our sometimes differing directions by including the ‘blooming obvious!’

    I am not sure if it is an Asian/new/emerging markets culture (new discussion possibly!), whereby poor performers are simply dismissed and new people bought in.  There are a plethora of L and D roles here in Singapore, as ‘development’ and talent management is just taking off.

    I am currently ploughing through (by the pool  🙂  ) several management books as recommended by said manager, hopefully I will be able to get on to yours soon!

    Thanks again,



  3. a few more thoughts…

    Hi Fraggs

    1. No need to steal the idea, it was freely given expressly for you to use if you felt it might work

    2. Interesting point about managers ‘not being paid to manage’….couple that with a culture of firing poor performers and you have a potential solution; fire a couple of managers who aren’t managing "pour encourager les autres"

    3. Glad to hear L&D is taking off in Singapore and lots of work is available, pity I can’t up-sticks and move; I’m starving to death here in Blighty AND I haven’t got a swimming pool to sit next to!


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