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Goal setting is a topic we have all learned about from the time we were in grammar school. If we think about it, we set goals for ourselves throughout the day without realizing how often we use this important success tool. However, if we consciously plan our goals, we can better track our achievements. With all of the systems we use in the law office (i.e., timekeeping, billing, calendaring, filing, et.), we can be sure that setting goals can only enhance our systems and practices. It is a great idea to discuss and set goals during your staff or trial team meetings. Goals can be created and committed to within the group. Having “goal buddies” keeps everyone on their toes, meeting the demands and challenges of the goal.

There are many goal setting techniques, but all have the same basic elements:

  1. Make your goal clear and specific, and give it a time by which it should be achieved.
  2. Set goals that will push you beyond what you’re doing but are realistic. Assume you will achieve the goal.
  3. Put your goal in writing so that you (a) make a contract with yourself, and (b) can review your goal every day at least twice.
  4. List what you expect will be achieved by reaching your goal.
  5. Take action now. Don’t procrastinate.

As noted in #2 above, the goal should be realistic. It is important to strike an appropriate balance between a challenging goal and a realistic goal. Setting a goal that you will fail to achieve is more de-motivating than setting a goal that is too easy. The need for success and achievement is strong, therefore we are best motivated by challenging, but realistic goals.

Goals have to be understood and agreed upon if we want them to be effective. Your staff or team will be more likely to accept the goal if they feel they were part of creating it. When employees are involved in setting goals in business, it is referred to as “participative management”. Agreed upon goals lead to commitment, and when the whole team commits to a goal it is probable that they will achieve it.

Setting a goal is a motivating force for the whole firm, from the receptionist to the senior partner. Hard goals are more motivating than easy goals. Grand goals can be separated into smaller scale goals along the way. We are all motivated by achievements, and when we know what we do will be well received, we’re naturally motivated to do a good job.

Put this law office management tool to work for your firm. Take a meeting! Set some goals!

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