Goals Versus Expectations

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I have been pondering the goals I would like to set for ACT for 2017 and it made me think about the difference between a goal and an expectation. Is there a difference? Merriam-Webster defines a goal as something that you are trying to do or achieve. This is something that you strive for. I am sure we have all set goals and December is the month most of us start thinking about our own personal and work-related goals for the following year. When we set goals we understand that we may not achieve them. In fact, I have set my own “stretch” goals that I know I am not likely to achieve, but if I do, I will celebrate! Also, I am sometimes even congratulated just for trying when I fail to achieve my goal. An expectation on the other hand is something you expect to achieve. You don’t celebrate expectations…you expect them! If what you expected to happen doesn’t, you are surprised and investigate to understand why. Hopefully you learn from it so the unexpected outcome doesn’t happen again.

For example, when our Escondido Branch Manager, Jeff Ruhl, drives to work each morning, do you think it is his goal to arrive at work safely or simply an expectation? Do you think when Jeff arrives at work safely that he is greeted by Krystian with a high five and Gina does a celebratory dance for him? Of course not. It’s an afterthought because arriving safely at work is an expectation. What if Jeff didn’t arrive to work safely? What do you think he would do? My guess is that he would figure out why he didn’t arrive safely and do something about it!

Over the past 10 years there has been a shift in safety performance recognition. Many companies have gone away from a reward program for going a certain amount of time without an injury and tying manager’s bonuses to incident rates. OSHA has even discouraged this practice on the basis that it encourages employees to under-report incidents; see OSHA’s final rule to ‘nudge’ employers to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

So is safety a goal or an expectation? I believe that no one should get hurt at work and I believe that all incidents are preventable; therefore, as leaders, we must build a sustainable safety culture.

For 2017 I am not going to reward employees for not getting hurt. In 2017 safety for ACT will not be a goal, but an expectation. I expect that everyone will do what is needed to ensure they go home safely. We won’t celebrate the fact that we didn’t get hurt but we will celebrate the success of the company and the actions we took to send everyone home safe at the end of the day.

– Krista Wood Harsono, Director of Compliance

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