If you’re targeting improvement on a weakness, especially, your plan may involve targeting and changing the contextual dynamics or thoughts or emotions that have led you to less effective behavior in the past or that have led others to mistaken impressions of you in various categories. Returning to the above example of Jack and Jill, both of them probably want to pay more attention to being engaged when other IP teammates are talking – including direct eye contact, putting away laptops/phones, etc., as active listening helps make others feel that you are gathering information to understand them and that you do care about them. Jill’s plan to improve others’ impressions of her “reading others” behaviors may also need to include reminding herself that engaging ideas and contributions from other teammates actually will help make a better product and grade (which is what she gets anxious about). Meanwhile, Jack’s plan to improve others’ impressions of his “reading others” behaviors may need to involve finding hooks in the project tasks to make him more intrinsically motivated to work, as well as spending quality, non-work one-on-one time with IP teammates early on in the next term so that he gets to know them better and feels less shy and awkward about talking in meetings (which is what was driving the lack of participation that led to his teammates feeling disregarded). S.M.A.R.T. Action Plans Work! No matter which option above you choose for your plan, you want to plot specific new behavioral steps in the short- to medium-term. While creative plans sometimes deliver impressive results, even the most basic and obvious kinds of action plans can work. One critical aspect many successful plans share is good goal-setting. Having a compelling goal can make all the difference for actually executing on a plan. We’d like you to follow the SMART model of goal-setting: goals should be s pecific, m easurable, a chievable, r einforcing, and t ime-bound. 6
Specific : Success is hard to define when goals are vague. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general one. Here are two examples of goals that would be too general: “I’ll become nicer to people” or “I’ll explore careers in finance”. Instead, try to identify a specific goal by considering a series of "W" questions: Who is involved? What do I want to accomplish, precisely? When do I want to achieve my goals? How do I want to achieve my goals? A general goal might be, "Get in shape" but a specific version of this would be, "Work out 3 days a week at the fitness center for the rest of the term." Instead of “I’m going to be nicer to my IP teammates,” consider something like “For the next two weeks, when one of my teammates disagrees with me, I’m going to resist immediately jumping in to argue my side, and first take a deep breath. Then I’m going to consciously remind myself that I do care about the person, and instead of going on the attack right away, I am going to earnestly ask them to explain how they see things in a tone that conveys that I actually care about what they have to say.
- Fall '12
- Psychology, Alison