1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, FAAN, Editor-in-Chief

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You can't succeed unless you know what it is that you want to accomplish. The New Year is a good time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses over the past 12 months before you begin to create new goals. Assess your current status with previously determined objectives to help set new priorities. What were the circumstances related to your success or failure to attain established goals? Factors such as misalignment with key organizational strategic priorities, lofty expectations, inappropriate resource allocation, failure to articulate performance standards, lack of team member engagement in the process, unexpected circumstances, or inadequate focus may have influenced your ability to succeed.

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Consider your organization's strategic priorities when establishing goals for your area of responsibility. Measures of success are typically established in collaboration with senior managers and your organization's governing body after an extensive analysis of consumer needs versus economic realities. Alignment with these imperatives may provide you with the necessary financial and human resources, as well as peer leadership support, to succeed. Attempting to achieve without congruence between your goals and that of your facility will build frustration and set the stage for poor performance.


Also consider local, regional, and national initiatives when goal setting. You'll want to network with others to become educated regarding issues and trends that will impact your department. Some hot topics: The Joint Commission's new National Patient Safety Goals, consumer scrutiny regarding public reporting of quality measures, new sources of evidence required by the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Commission, and Medicare beneficiaries.


Discuss organizational goals with your team members so that they can participate in creating realistic stretch goals for your department. Be sure to include an action-oriented comprehensive plan that clearly defines process steps, time frames, and individual responsibility and accountabilities to reach each milestone. Diligently review steps on a periodic basis to ensure targets are being reached. If you uncover deficiencies, don't be alarmed-take the opportunity to reformulate your game plan with revised action steps.


Daily operational interruptions will unfailingly surface to impede goal achievement. As a leader, you must ensure a structured commitment and focus by holding yourself and others accountable for meeting targeted expectations. Establish a routine that maintains a focus on goal-oriented performance. By requiring direct reports to document their progress at regular intervals, you'll instill accountability and foster an environment primed for achieving actionable tasks. A disciplined process promotes better communication and prioritization-two necessary elements for success.


Benchmarking with others attempting to meet the same or similar goals is extremely beneficial. Openly ask questions and reciprocate in sharing your experiences. Without well-established goals, there's considerable risk that your organization will stagnate in healthcare's rapidly changing environment. Get proactive. A comprehensive goal set put to action will establish your organization as a leader in delivering quality care.


Richard Hader