Why do people hate having to do their objectives?

My friend Jim tweeted a question to me the other day:
“Why do people sometimes react badly when you push them on finding the objectives? This happens a lot I find.”

Yes, it does happen a lot, Jim. And, let’s be honest, Jim, you didn’t jump for joy when I told you that’s where we needed to start!

A convert to objectives

In fairness to Jim, he has now seen the light and is a complete convert to the value of objectives. If anything, he’s even more zealous than I am (hard to imagine, I know).

As a Grapevine reader, you get a special 25% discount on any and all of our objectives products this week. You can find them here. Just use this code: Objective Grapes 954

Why do people hate doing objectives so much?

  1. They think it’s ‘obvious’ so there is no need to write it down and it’s a waste of their time
  2. They run the risk of failing to achieve the objective
  3. They don’t know how to do it – if this is you, use this special discount code for blog readers, Objective Grapes 954, and get a 25% discount on all our objectives products, just for this week.

They think it’s ‘obvious’ so there is no need to write it down and it’s a waste of their time

If it is obvious then they should be able to do it quickly and it won’t take much time. When you probe this reason, it usually turns out that the individual does not really know. To get help with this use this code, Objective Grapes 954, to get your 25% discount on any of our objectives products (even if you buy in bulk).

They run the risk of failing to achieve the objective

This is a problem in many companies where objectives are used as a weapon to prove that someone does not deserve a pay rise, instead of as a tool to make sure that everyone knows what they need to achieve.

They don’t know how to do it

This is probably the biggest problem of all. Many people hate being forced to do things that they do not know how to do. In this situation, instead of trying to find out or get help, they find excuses, complain and moan about it.

Sometimes they don’t even realise that they can get help

Worse still many people have no idea how bad at writing objectives they are because they have never seen any that were well-written or SMART objectives. To see what well-written objectives and targets look like, check out our “”Objectives Quick Start Sheets”, full of real examples. Use the discount code, just for Grapevine readers, Objective Grapes 954 to get the discount.

Bad objectives at the top

If the objectives at the top of an organisation are poor, then it is virtually impossible for anyone further down the chain to get theirs right. I worked with an HR department a while back. They wanted to carry out an audit of the objectives in their company. The project was woolly and unclear – because it had no clear objectives.

The HR department itself had no objectives right at the top. The manager simply expected everyone to be able to read his mind and know what they were supposed to do. He was incapable of writing clear objectives but only too happy to let people know when they got it wrong.

How do you tackle long-term performance issues?

Have you come across a performance issue that has been festering for years?
Like someone who has behaved badly ever since they were recruited?

Or a team member who has simply never done his or her job properly?

Or someone who has never been able to deliver the right quality or deal with people in they way they should?

After so long, it can be hard to know where to start.
Where do you start?

“How to Deal With Poor Performance” Use this discount code, Grapevine 4823,  just for Grapevine readers, to get your 25% discount.

Steps for dealing with performance issues

This is a question I have often been asked, so here is what to do.

Step 1
Identify the standards of performance and behaviour you really need. This is very close to the objectives and will help you with that stage a bit later.

Step 2
Gather the facts on what has happened, what the individual has done and not done.

Step 3
Check the costs. This should at least include:

  • Lost sales
  • Wasted hours (yours, your colleagues, including the time spent talking about it)
  • Time off (stress etc)
  • Opportunity cost (what else could you have done with this time)

Step 4
Identify your objective – that is what you really need to achieve. See ‘How to Write Objectives That Work” and use your discount code Grapevine 4823 to get 25% off just for this week.

This discount applies to “How to Write Objectives That Work” and “How to Deal with Poor Performance”

Step 5
Work out your plan for tackling the individual.

  • Take responsibility
  • Explain the situation.
  • Check awareness
  • Help them to learn new skills

I don’t like to say to people that they must change. I find it’s far better to help them to learn some other ways, usually much easier, of dealing with the situations where there have been problems.

In order to do this you need to have very clear objectives, especially if you are dealing with behaviours. They need to be quite specific:
“When someone says something that you disagree with you:
Listen to what they have said till they have finished
Summarise it back to them
Wait for them to say if you have got it right or not
Ask them what they think your view is
Identify the objective”

This may sound like way too much detail, but in these situations, at the beginning, it is often necessary to go into that much detail.

Agree measures

You need to know if your efforts are having any impact.

Now for the real work

Once you’ve done all this foundation work, then you can start with the real work. But believe me, it’s much easier if you do the preparation and planning first. Take a look at my other examples in  “How to Deal With Poor Performance” Use this discount code, Grapevine 4823, just for you, as a Grapevine reader, so you can get your 25% discount. The discount code is valid just for this week.

This discount applies to “How to Write Objectives That Work” and “How to Deal with Poor Performance”

Working too hard?

Are you up to your eyes with work but don’t feel you are making any progress? Do you just have too much to do? Are you stressed out?

If this is you, read on to get a few tips on how to reduce your workload. You’ll find lots more tips and tools in our booklet “Time Management Made Easy”.

I read an article the other day suggesting that there was no such thing as ‘Time Management’. That’s wrong. There is.

You have seen people who manage their time well and others who don’t and you know the results.

Here is one problem that wastes a great deal of time:

Doing the same job twice

This is a problem that many people create for themselves. You can create this problem in several ways:

  1. Doing a job badly the first time so you have to do it again, often because you are in a rush
  2. Doing things in the wrong order so you have to do them again like going out shopping without working out your list, then having to go back because there’s something else you need.
  3. Not getting the correct details or instructions so you have to repeat the same work.

To stop this happening, you need to slow down, which is exactly what you don’t feel like doing when you are in a hurry and overloaded.

How to plan

For some reason you often feel that spending time planning is waste of time, but it can be the most effective use of your time if you do it properly. It doesn’t need to take very long and can save much more time than it takes.

The first thing to do is to work out what you need to achieve, your objective or goal.

An example of how to plan a task

I was working with a client recently who needed to write a personal statement to get her into university. She had done some preparation, found out what the interviewers were looking for and managed to get hold of a personal statement from a previous successful candidate.

She had then started drafting it out.

That’s one way of doing it. I went through an easier and more time-efficient way.

1. Check the criteria or objective

We went down the list of criteria that she had gathered and got examples of each one, like things she had done in the community, personal achievements and so on.

2. Work out a structure

We then agreed a structure based on ones she had found from friends who had already got into medical school – so we knew they worked.

3. Put the examples in

Her next step is to put the examples into the structure.

4. Get the language right

Then she will turn that into English.

5. Adjust the length

The length in this case is very important and dictated by the people who will be reading it, so it must be right. It’s best to adjust the length at this stage, rather than earlier, using the criteria for what needs to be in the statement to help.

6. Leave it and review it

Then she will leave it a day or two and look at it again with fresh eyes and review it, checking it against the original list of criteria to make sure they are all covered.

7. Proofread

Lastly she will get it proofread to make sure there are no mistakes.

This may sound like adding extra layers of complexity and difficulty but what it does is turn what is quite a difficult task into a series of easy steps.

You don’t have to do them all at once and you feel good as soon as you have completed one, so it’s easier to stay motivated.

For more tips on time management, get “Time Management Made Easy” our handy booklet full of tips on dealing with all kinds of time management problems from dealing with interruptions to unexpected events and from managing meetings to managing your manager.

Are you being bullied?

Being bullied is one of the most miserable experiences you can have. It can also make you stressed and angry.

But there are things you can do. Here are some tips to help. You’ll find more help here.

Recognise the bulllying behaviour

Most people leave this far too late. The trouble is that, the more you are bullied, and the more stressed you feel, the more difficult it is to get out of the situation.

This is because being stressed for long periods of time damages a part of your brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus has many functions. Two of them are:

  • Turning short term memories into long term memories
  • Over-riding your desire to react spontaneously and making sure you stay calm

This is why your memory gets worse when you are stressed (you forget where your keys are and your partner’s birthday). It’s also why you may find it harder to control your temper.

The size of your hippocampus is also directly related to your self-esteem. So the longer the period of stree, the lower your belief in your ability to deal with whoever is bullying you becomes.

This means that you often need someone to help you get out of the situation. Especially if it’s been going on for a long time.

What to do if you are being bullied

Here is an example of a client who was being badly bullied by his boss. She seemed absolutely fine when he first started working for her. Then, one day he made a very small error on a slide, which he correct in time. After that her behaviour towards him changed completely.

He had the worst performance appraisal of his career and was terrified that the next one would mark the end of his career.
That was when I got involved.

Here are the key changes he made.

Body language

This may sound trivial, but I can assure you it has a massive impact. You know this because you will have seen people who almost seem to invite bullying with very submissive and apologetic body language, stopping and with their heads bowed.
He changed his posture and we practised it.


With someone who bullies it is very important to make sure that you are always, from a position perspective, at least on a level with him or her. So never sit when they are standing. If they approach you when you are seated, stand up. Don’t sit till they do. Ideally get on a higher level than him or her.

Again, it may seem trivial, but it matters.

Take control of the conversation

Be prepared before you speak to the individual. In this case, we carefully prepared my client’s responses to his manager’s comments on the appraisal form where she said he had not met the standard.

We took each one, made sure he had the evidence and then prepared a question for him to ask her. They were not aggressive questions, just questions about the facts.

For example:
“Let’s look at the first objective. Are you aware of the date when this project was completed?” (She had said it wasn’t finished on the form and had marked him down for that.) “And have you got a copy of the feedback from John Smith (a very senior manager).

And we prepared a face-saving sentence for him so she didn’t have to admit to being wrong (yes, I know you’d like them to admit they are wrong, but it won’t help and will just annoy them more):
“I know he’s very hard to get hold of and because this project was for the Germans, you probably didn’t get the information in time.”

Another clever trick

This one is a bit weird but it works amazingly well. You need to pretend that the bully is someone else who you really like. And you need to really focus on that.

Here’s why it works. One of the reasons that people bully you is because you let them. You give off signals that make it easy for them and the more you do that the more they bully you till it gets to be a habit.

With some of my clients, even just the mention of the name of the bully could bring about an immediate change in that client; the way they spoke, sat and the expression on their face (often just fear).

If you think of someone else, your whole behaviour changes and you give off entirely different signals. This has an impact on the person who is bullying you.  It’s all subconscious so they won’t even realise it’s happening.

The result

For my client the result was amazing. He came round to see me after his appraisal. His manager had given his performance a rating of “Met Standards” which he was very happy with (given what he had been expecting) and the whole thing had lasted for just 30 minutes. She had behaved in a way that was completely reasonable and acceptable, though he did say she seemed rather surprised at first.

His opening words were “I did what you said and it worked. I can’t believe it.”

You can deal with bullies

Do believe it. It can be done. You don’t have to suffer.

To help you and anyone you know who is being bullied, we have put all our products on bullying on special offer. It’s not just for you; it’s for your friends. Remember, if you have a friend who is being bullied, they may need help.  That’s what friends are for, so do your best.