There's nothing wrong with setting goals at work and in your personal life. It's a smart way of defining which direction you'd like to take your work (or your dreams), and if you're a leader, your team's performance. But, hitting your targets isn't the only way to measure success. Keeping track of your progress and learning as much as you can from the whole process are just as important as racking up the numbers for your team. Here are five reasons why you should focus on the process more than hitting your goals.
#1 An outcome is a natural result of any process.
Nils from NJLifeHacks has this to say about goals: Any outcome in life is the natural by-product of a process. Why pump your body with stress hormones by constantly thinking about your endgame? Visualizing your success is fun, but it can also put unnecessary pressure on you psychologically. And, this could affect your performance.
#2 Failure is part of the process; learn from your mistakes.
Failure is an option! Without failure, we won't have any way of knowing what works and doesn't work. Don't be afraid to fail; get up and try a different way of doing things until you found a method or tool that works for you or your team.
Focusing on the process of trying and failing, and trying again, pushes you to learn as you go. It forces you to look inward and ask yourself, "Where did it go wrong? Was it my fault? Am I missing something?" These questions lead you to explore possibilities you may haven't thought about.
#3 An almost obsessive focus on outputs and metrics encourages unethical behavior.
Putting too much importance on getting things done no matter the cost is just as bad as giving employees freedom without direction or moral orientation. This signals to employees that it doesn't matter how results are achieved as long as they get them done.
An article from The Conversation pointed out that this demonstrates a lack of self-control, which leads to the creation of "monsters" in management. This normalizes bad behavior in the company, which in turn, pushes employees to flee and find a job with a kinder and more rewarding work environment.
#4 Placing too much value on outcomes can demotivate people and stop them from realizing their true potential.
Research has shown that an achievement-oriented workplace often leans toward punitive rather than constructive feedback, which quickly demotivates employees. Even without a bad boss berating them and micromanaging their every move, employees who were given an imbalanced review will naturally feel disenfranchised and leave the company.
#5 Focusing too much on the objectives inhibits employees from developing a growth mindset.
An inevitable consequence of this uncontrolled focus on outcomes is the development of a fixed mindset vis-a-vis a growth-oriented mentality. According to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, people with a fixed mindset (those who believe that abilities are fixed) tend to run away from difficulty and are likely to believe they'll never improve. In comparison, people with a growth mindset (those who believe that they can develop their skills and abilities further), tend to persevere when faced with a challenge and become truly engaged in finding solutions to problems.
You can get the best out of people by focusing on continual improvement and framing one's development as a work in progress. Give people a chance to improve, and those who recognize that golden opportunity to become more than they can be will take it and impress the hell out of you. This is why reorienting your organization's focus on process rather than outcomes will surely produce results better than the last.