Performance Goals vs. Learning Goals

Which should we have, performance goals or learning goals?

When I’m out and about speaking to various groups about leadership or when meeting with a new client, that question of performance vs. learning goals always manages to crop up.

Of course, performance goals are goals set around someone on your team actually performing to their top potential, setting goals based on what management sees as their potential level and their level of confidence, etc. And, learning goals are all about increasing your confidence and continued education…sharpening the saw.

Is there a happy medium? With all that’s required of leaders today, how can they make sure they get the right performance/learning mix?

The first thing is, you shouldn’t make one more important than the other. You need to have both. What keeps you employed and earning a paycheck are meeting or exceeding performance-based goals, but what gets you better so that you can ask for more pay are learning goals.

Leaders also need to remember there are some people who don’t want to learn, so you’ve got to understand who your people are, what they’re trying to accomplish, what their performance goals are and finally, how can you include learning goals and what will that mean to you and them?


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