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Goal setting for Product Managers

We’re officially in the fourth quarter of the year. Have you made good progress towards your annual goals? There’s just a little time left to hit your objectives. This reminds me of one of those football games where it’s in the 4th quarter and your favorite team is down. 

Speaking of football, let me share a quick story about someone you may have heard of… Tom Brady

You may be asking yourself “Joni, what does Tom Brady have to do with product management?!?” Patience, grasshopper. Keep reading…

Tom and Oprah

Tom appeared on a podcast episode of Oprah Winfrey’s “Supersoul Conversations” a while back. 

Tom spoke about how he had not always been the best football player. When he played for Michigan, he knew the areas he had to work on, but he also knew his strengths: he had a strong work ethic, he was a natural at leading people, and he had perseverance. Probably sounds like a great product manager you know, right?

He went on to talk about how he led his NFL team at the time, the Patriots, when they were down by 25 points in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons. Rather than worrying about the huge gap and questioning if they could do it, they tackled (sorry, had to go there) each play one at a time and ensured they made the right move for that particular play: Score one touch down. Stop the defense and get the ball back quickly. Get to a first down… you get the picture. That 25-point comeback was the biggest in Super Bowl history.

How does this relate to Q4 and you possibly being behind on achieving your annual goals this year? Be like Tom.

Break your goals down into smaller pieces.

If you’re supposed to redefine the strategy for your product, come up with the smaller milestones that you’ll need to hit along the way, such as selecting a framework to use or identifying who your stakeholders are. Prioritize and focus on incremental activities that put you closer to your goal (whether it’s delivering a more engaging experience for your customers, increasing revenue for your company, etc.).

Schedule working on your goals (or it won’t happen).

Once you’ve defined those smaller steps and milestones, schedule time on your calendar to do the work. I’m a big fan of time-blocking. If it’s not scheduled, it won’t happen. 

During this time, you may also be asked to come up with your goals for 2022. Trying to define new goals while actively working towards hitting your current goals can be quite a challenge. Again, use time-blocking to make sure you are working on each of these items. 

When goal setting, make sure your goals are in support of your business goals.

Goals should be SMART!

Specific: Increase the chances that you are able to accomplish the goals by making sure they’re well-defined. Determine the who, what, where, when, and why.

Measurable: Develop criteria for measuring progress toward your goals. Detail the key indicators that help you decide if and when you reach your goal by quantifying them. Use the OKR framework for making sure your goals are measurable.

Achievable: Create goals that are attainable and achievable by ensuring that you and your team have the skills and resources to reach the goal. 

Time-bound: Give yourself a deadline for reaching your goal to provide a sense of urgency and the opportunity to schedule the steps you plan to take to achieve the goal.

You should include personal career goals to make sure you are growing as a Product Manager.

I also recommend thinking about your personal career development when setting goals. Do you want to be promoted this year? Or perhaps you’d like to switch jobs altogether? Make sure you include these in your goal setting for the year. 

If you’d like help with reaching your goals this year or setting up goals for next year, sign up for my PM Power Hour. This one-hour call will provide you with the clarity you need to move forward. I’ll give you no-nonsense advice that you can put into action immediately. Click here to sign up!

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