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How We’re Using Monthly Goal Setting to Help our Team with Long-Term Career Development

By Emily Smith on Mon, Oct 10, 2016

After six months of running fortnightly 1-on-1 meetings, we realised that one of the big things that was missing in terms of our team’s personal development was a way to prioritise longer-term learning and improvement.

Our 1-on-1 meetings have taught us the value of dedicating time to reflect on our work, but we all wanted a way to focus on learning and development, in a measurable way. As a result, at the end of August we ran our first monthly ‘Personal Development 1-on-1’ sessions. Today I’m sharing how we structured our personal development sessions, and what we’ve learned so far.

How We Took our 1-on-1 Meetings to the Next Level

When we were planning our personal development sessions, we decided to stick close to the meeting style we’ve perfected for our 1-on-1s, using pre-prepared questions to focus our conversations. However, to ensure we all got the most out of these sessions, there was a lot more preparation and follow-up work to do, compared with our regular 1-on-1s:

  • Will provided us with a document to complete, detailing our biggest career accomplishments to date, our biggest career challenges, our 1, 3 and 10 year aspirations, and also to outline any skills we’d like to develop.
  • Using this information as a starting point, Will created a personalised ‘agenda’ for each of us – the questions that the meeting would revolve around.
  • After the meeting, we were each tasked with creating a selection of SMART goals to work towards, which have been shared with the team.

Setting SMART Goals

The aim of these personal development sessions was for each of us to come away with some SMART goals: 3 short-term SMART goals, and 1 quarterly SMART goal. This gives us some smaller goals to work towards over the next month, in the run-up to our next personal development session, in addition to a bigger goal that we can work towards in smaller steps over a three-month period.

These are aligned with our longer-term career aspirations, and provide us with a process for working towards those aims in small, manageable steps.

What We’ve Learned

Different Goal-Setting Approaches

One of the most striking insights that we’ve gained from this initial personal development session is how different team members approach goal setting in different ways.

For example, I found it very difficult to come up with my short-term goals, because I approached it from a very pragmatic standpoint, trying to work out how much I would have time to work on and trying to set realistic goals that would fit in with my normal workload. In contrast, Ryan found it much easier, because he focused on what he wanted to work on, rather than the time he would have available to him.

While both of these approaches have their merits, we’d probably both set better goals for ourselves if we learned from each other.

Meeting Frequency

We all valued having specific goals to work towards – both short- and longer-term. However, with all the preparation and follow-up work involved, I think running monthly personal development sessions is too frequent.

This is because we run our personal development 1-on-1s in place of our regular 1-on-1s, and as we only have 1-on-1 meetings every other week, this would mean that we would replace half of our 1-on-1 meetings with personal development sessions.

Prioritising Personal Development

We’ve always encouraged each other to learn new things, develop new skills and experiment with new ways of working, but this is the first time we’ve really prioritised growth and development with a formalised process.

As prioritising and encouraging personal development is a huge part of our Cobloom culture, starting to run these personal development sessions has been a really important step for the whole team.

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