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Being a Leader #2: Defining Success

In the last article in the series Being a Leader #1: Goal Setting, I explained why poor management can cause the collapse of teams and companies, and why it is important that leaders continue to build their skill sets, with goal setting being the focus. Each one of these Being a Leader articles goes into detail on a different tool or method which you can use in order to become a more effective leader. In this article we will be covering how to define success, and why it is so important for you to do so.

Defining success is the primary responsibility of any manager. It is very possibly one of the single easiest and most effective ways of improving the quality of your employees work. It’s like when you were in high school or college; If you were writing the same paper for two different teachers, you would get a different grade for each paper, because the criteria each teacher was using to grade was different. The problem is teachers rarely tell you what this criteria is. When a teacher did tell you what they were looking for in the paper, perhaps even giving out a checklist, it was much easier to achieve a better grade.

It is also useful to mention that when you define success well, people are less likely to be upset with you when they do not perform up to standards and you have to hold them accountable for their shoddy performance. Why? Well, because they knew what they had to do in order to succeed, and for whatever reason choose not to; thus the burden is entirely on them.

There isn’t any broad advice I can give on the best way to define success for your specific industry, as the requirements of your job will necessitate different types of definitions and varying scopes. For the games industry there are several ways I define success. Include as much specific information as possible about what the final result needs to look like, while leaving as much about the process itself as vague as possible. This leaves your programmers / artists free to do their job in the way they deem best (which will probably be more efficient than the way you would pick) while still obtaining the desired result. For design tasks, I define both the problem, as well as the design based solution that needs to be implemented. Changes to the design based solution need to be cleared by our designers before implemented.


Why Your Goals Suck (and How to Fix Them)

On On Reading and Living

My office mate wants to “be fit.”

She takes action by doing yoga and by eating less rice.

Most people will say “be fit” is a bad goal. Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound). They will also say yoga is not the best way to lose weight. And she needs to do more than eat less rice.

But I won’t, at least for now.


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