VIDEO: 5 Tips Towards Setting Actionable Goals

In the VIDEO: 5 Tips Towards Setting Actionable Goals, Dr. David Mason covers five points and five tips to create actionable goals to further your professional career. 

1. Be clear about WHAT you want to accomplish.

The very first step, before anything else, towards setting actionable goals is to be incredibly clear about WHAT your goal actually is. The reason is that poorly made goals can be gamed.

How about being a better listener? That’s a noble goal to pursue so I make my goal and one of the ways that I put it into action is to not interrupt people when they’re talking. So I sit back, let someone talk and then say what I was going to say anyway. I wasn’t really listening; I was just NOT talking.

What about losing weight? There’s a goal we’ve all tried at one point or another. If I just want to lose weight, I can still eat unhealthy, just less of it. I’m not really any better off health-wise and in fact might even be worse off.
In fact, the fastest way to lose weight is honestly just to cut off a leg. But that would be ridiculous, right, even though it reaches the goal?

Figure out how to cheat. If you can cheat, then it wasn’t a good goal. Be more specific about the actual WHAT that you want to accomplish.

2. Determine WHY you want to work towards this goal.

Be brutally honest. The goal should never actually be your goal! What is the result you hope to achieve? Remember, the goal is a tool and a measuring stick designed to help you arrive at that result. 

Ask yourself, “who benefits?”  If the answer isn’t a resounding “ME!” then you need to have a reckoning. Saying you want to be a better listener is one of those things that sounds great, but if your honest answer is because your boss told you to, or that it keeps the peace at the office, then you do not have a strong enough motivation to sustain you when the going gets rough.

If your motivation is not aligned with the goal, you need to find a way to bring your motivation closer to the goal, or your goal closer to the motivation. But in either case, don’t proceed until this part is in place.

Now let’s say you made this big hairy audacious goal and you’re super excited about it. That’s great! Shoot for the stars I always say. How do you plan on doing this exactly?

3. Determine HOW you will reach this goal.

Let’s take your awesome goal. You have a great goal which is super clear in purpose and you’re pumped to accomplish it. Now, take that goal and chop it in half. Now, chop it in half again. Now, chop it in half again. Go ahead and keep your super goal, but you’re going to need to create some sub-goals along the way.

Think like a video game. That is to say, make your goals manageable. Video games are so addictive precisely because you are always accomplishing something. If you finish a day and you don’t feel you made progress on something important to you, then you don’t have manageable goals.

align expectations phone

You know what video games also do incredibly well? They track your progress and give you constant feedback. In real life you need to ask yourself, WHEN will you know you have succeeded? This actually accomplishes two things:

  1. It gives you a deadline
  2. It forces you to be specific about the goal

Otherwise when the time came, how would you know you actually accomplished it? The terminology we use is “actionable steps” or “tangible tasks.”

4. Plan WHEN will you do it.

To help you with the WHEN, is to redefine the WHEN. For example, think of the different types of time you can use. You could make a deadline, or you could make a period of time to accomplish something, like Q2; or the WHEN could be an event, like team meetings or every morning when you walk in. Every goal is different, so I can’t give you suggested timeframes. This should be a discussion where you bring someone in to help you.

5. WHO do you need to help you?

What resources will make your goal seeking behavior more fruitful? Research shows that goals are much more likely to be achieved when there is someone else involved, even if that someone else is just a social support, cheerleader type.

Don’t ignore the WHO when trying to find resources. I phrased it this way on purpose. Most of the time we think in terms of keeping goals to ourselves or pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. But this is the wrong way to approach it. Always find someone else to help you in some way.


So to recap, don’t forget the WHAT, WHY, HOW, WHEN, and WHO and you will be well on your way to successful, actionable, goal achievement.

Take a look at more videos to assist in building a better organization:


VIDEO: 6 Best Practices in Creating Employee Engagement Surveys


6 Best Practices in Creating Employee Engagement Surveys

In the VIDEO: 6 Best Practices in Creating Employee Engagement Surveys I cover six ways to form questions in order to create a survey that will obtain the best and most accurate responses possible. By creating a powerful employee engagement survey you will accurately measure your organizations levels of engagement like never before. 

Join the WEBINAR: “Employee Engagement Survey Best Practices” and get HRCI or SHRM credit


  1. Use a subset of anchor questions to measure overall engagement.

    The most accurate way to measure employee engagement is to use the average score from a subset of validated anchor questions. We then use the score from the anchor questions to place employees in one of four different groups from Fully Engaged to Fully Disengaged.


  1. Use a variety of questions to measure employee perceptions regarding their work, their team, their boss, and the organization overall.

    These items will be used to determine unique perceptions among the different engagement groups of employees. Also include items to measure the five major drivers of employee engagement, which are: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection.


  1. Use proper question structure and formatting:

    Good questions are actionable, meaning that it is obvious what actions to take based on the item. So avoid vague or general statements that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Also, don’t use double-barreled questions which are items that contain two ideas in one question. Finally, use questions that are positively worded with a consistent rating scale.


  1. Customize the survey so that it is relevant to your organization.

    Every organization is unique, so make sure to include items that evaluate recent changes, alignment with company values, or other pertinent issues. But don’t go too far. If you customize too much, you won’t be able to utilize industry benchmarks on similar questions.


  1. Use two or maybe three open-ended questions.

    We recommend asking: “What are the areas that need the most improvement in our organization?” and “What are the greatest strengths of our organization?” These two items will generate good qualitative feedback that provides context to the scores on the other survey questions. Don’t use too many open-ended questions because it makes the survey run long and it doesn’t provide any additional feedback.


  1. Use between 40-60 questions total.

    A survey with 50 questions takes about 8 minutes to complete. If your survey is too short, then it doesn’t provide enough information to make specific conclusions and it becomes in actionable. If it is too long, employees will not finish it and you could also end up with too much information with leads to data paralysis.


Want to learn more? Download our whitepaper, “10 Questions to Consider Before Your Next Employee Engagement Survey” to learn more about building the most effective survey possible. 

Take a look at more videos to assist in building a better organization:

VIDEO: 5 Employee Engagement Best Practices

VIDEO: Employee Satisfaction and Engagement. What’s the Difference?

VIDEO: The Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement

VIDEO: The Impact of 360-Degree Feedback Coaching


Thanks for reading or watching and best of luck in your efforts to create an engaged workplace.


Employee Engagement Survey

VIDEO: 5 Employee Engagement Best Practices


5 Employee Engagement Best Practices

In the VIDEO: 5 Employee Engagement Best Practices I share 5 employee engagement best practices from our 2016 State of Employee Engagement Report.

To compile this report, we surveyed HR professionals from over 200 organizations around the world on what they were doing to address employee engagement.

Join the WEBINAR: “Employee Engagement Survey Best Practices” and get HRCI or SHRM credit

For one of the questions, we asked, “Based on any employee survey results over the past 3 years, has the overall level of employee engagement in your organization trended upward, stayed the same, or gone down.” 32% of organizations reported engagement trending upward, 28% stayed the same, and 17% reported engagement had actually decreased. 

Companies with Employee Engagement Trending Upward


When we looked at the 32% who reported engagement trended upward over the past 3 years, here is what we found:


1.         Successful companies consistently measure employee engagement.

Most companies with rising levels of employee engagement have measured it at least every year for the past three years or more.


2.         Successful companies do better at involving managers in the action planning process.

Companies with upward trending levels of employee engagement also reported that more managers are involved in action planning.

Involve Managers in Action Planning

3.         Successful companies train managers on employee engagement.

Training managers on employee engagement, and training in general, were two similarities among companies with rising levels of engagement. So investing in the development of your managers pays off in increased engagement.

Train Managers on Employee Engagement

4.        Successful companies measure the ROI of employee engagement.

Specifically, companies that compare their engagement efforts to retention and other performance metrics do better at increasing engagement overall.

Measure the ROI of Employee Engagement

5.         Successful companies work with an outside provider.

Almost 60% of companies with rising levels of engagement report that they partner with service providers to enhance employee engagement. So if your employee engagement program has stalled, you may benefit from the expertise of outside engagement professionals.

Companies tend to work with Employee Engagement outside partners

Want to learn more? Download our 2016 State of Employee Engagement Report to learn about other best practices and to see how your organization compares. This 58-page report shows specifically what organizations are doing to measure and increase employee engagement. 

Take a look at more videos to assist in building a better organization:

VIDEO: 5 Employee Engagement Best Practices

VIDEO: Employee Satisfaction and Engagement. What’s the Difference?

VIDEO: The Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement

VIDEO: The Impact of 360-Degree Feedback Coaching


Thanks for reading or watching and best of luck in your efforts to create an engaging workplace.

Employee Engagement Survey

VIDEO: Employee Satisfaction and Engagement. What's the Difference?

Employee Satisfaction vs. Employee Engagement

What are the differences between employee satisfaction and employee engagement?

Employee satisfaction is the extent to which the employment contract is fulfilled. Employees feel satisfied when basic hygiene factors are met. These factors include pay, benefits, job training, safety, and the tools and resources to do the job. Other things that drive satisfaction are perks such as free lunch, day care, or working from home.

Download: Employee Engagement Survey

Satisfaction elements help to attract new employees and retain existing employees. For example, if your company offers the best healthcare benefits in the area, you will probably receive more job applications and employees will be less likely to leave and forfeit their health plan.

Employee satisfaction is very important because it creates the foundation upon which engagement can thrive. Employees must first be satisfied before they can be engaged.
MAGIC - DecisionWise

We define employee engagement as an emotional state where we feel passionate, energetic, and committed toward our work. In turn, we fully invest our best selves—our hearts, spirits, minds, and hands—in the work we do.

The five drivers of employee engagement are Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection. Meaning is finding purpose in the work you perform. Autonomy is having the freedom to do your best work. Growth is feeling stretched and challenged in your job. Impact is about making a difference and getting things done. And Connection is about belonging to something greater than yourself.

So where satisfaction helps to attract and retain employees, engagement also helps with retention but it is the main driver of performance. Engaged employees want to do their best work and deliver results for the company.

Satisfaction is more transactional– you pay me and I do my work- engagement is transformational – where I love my job and want to make a difference.

Both concepts are important. No matter how engaged employees are in their work, if they feel under-compensated, a satisfaction element, their engagement will suffer and they will probably look for other job opportunities.

If you would like to learn how to measure both the satisfaction and engagement levels of your employees, download the DecisionWise employee engagement survey. Thanks for reading or watching and best of luck in your efforts to create an engaging workplace.

Take a look at more videos to assist in building a better organization:

VIDEO: 5 Employee Engagement Best Practices

VIDEO: Employee Satisfaction and Engagement. What’s the Difference?

VIDEO: The Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement

VIDEO: The Impact of 360-Degree Feedback Coaching


Employee Engagement Survey

VIDEO: The Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement

Engaged Employees

Download: Employee Engagement Survey

Let’s talk about our research on the Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement.

We recently conducted the largest study of its kind to compare the level of employee engagement of managers to that of their direct reports. This study included data from 22 companies, almost 19,000 employees, and 2,300 managers.

We first measured the overall level of engagement for each individual using a set of research-based anchor questions from their annual employee survey. We then grouped managers and employees according to their level of engagement into four categories: Fully Engaged, Key Contributors, Opportunity Group, and Fully Disengaged. Then we compared the level of engagement of managers to the employees they lead. 

Employee Engagement Example Graph

For the 808 managers that were Fully Engaged, we found that 36% of their employees were also Fully Engaged, 48% were Key Contributors, 12% were in the Opportunity Group, and only 3% were Fully Disengaged. 

For the 1154 managers who were Key Contributors, the level of fully engaged employees drops to 24%. So the percentage of fully engaged employees increases 50% from a Key Contributor manager to a Fully Engaged manager.

For managers in the Opportunity Group and Fully Disengaged categories, only 14% of their employees were fully engaged.

So you can see that fully engaged managers lead more engaged employees. That finding, in of itself, is not very surprising, but what is important, is that the percentage of fully engaged employees increases 163% from Opportunity Group managers and Fully Disengaged managers to Fully Engaged managers. That’s a huge difference. 

So how do you engage managers? Here are 3 best-practice recommendations:

3 Ways to Engage Managers


Employee Engagement Survey

VIDEO: The Impact of 360-Degree Feedback Coaching

Business meeting

Download: 360-Degree Feedback Survey

Watch this short video and learn more about our research on the impact 360-degree feedback coachingBy coaching, we mean sitting down with someone to debrief their 360-degree feedback results and helping them to create an action plan. For the purpose of this study, we collected feedback from 244 leaders from a Fortune 500 company with locations around the world. 

Leadership Coaching Meeting

These leaders had recently received 360-degree feedback and were provided coaching by internal HR professionals. We wanted to understand the effectiveness of the process. We asked questions about the process, the survey, and the coaching experience and here is what we found:

 94% of those that received coaching and set goals felt the 360 process was effective.

Conversely, only 34% of those who reported that they did not receive sufficient coaching felt the 360 process was effective.

Register: 360-Degree Feedback Coaching Training

This means that if you don’t provide any coaching support on your 360 feedback process, 66% of your participants will not feel that the process is effective. That is a huge waste of time and money.

So, how do you provide an excellent coaching experience? Here are three simple steps:

  1. Schedule 90 minutes to meet individually with each participant.
  2. Help the individual interpret the results by providing context for the scores and overall themes.
  3. Guide them in creating an action plan that addresses 2-3 development opportunities.

If you’d like to learn more and become certified as a 360-degree feedback coach, contact DecisionWise about our coaching training programs.

360-Degree Feedback Survey Download