Goals need targets!

As a long-time trainer and classroom instructor with the U.S. Postal Service, one of the key things I learned early on was that for training to be efficient, the trainee needed to know at the outset exactly what they should accomplish at the conclusion of training.

That may seem like a “d’oh!” or “Captain Obvious” thing to say, but I also learned that folks can easily overlook the obvious unless they receive regular reinforcement.

My first postal training program was as a pre-hire to be considered for a future postal MPLSM clerk job.  MPLSM was the acronym for the machine those clerks worked on, pressing keys on a piano-style keyboard, while letter zipped by.  The keyboard actually had two rows of keys, one upper and one lower, ten keys per row, with a six-inch separation between the right keys and the left keys

I was required to key a series of 3-digit numbers on the bottom keyboard only at the rate of 60 per second, with a 95% accuracy.  Those numbers were important, because I had clear idea of what I needed to achieve to be successful.  And I needed to be successful to be considered for employment.

I was nervous when I reported on that first day as a pre-hire.  The training clerk showed me the replica of the MPLSM clerk station, and showed me how to run the cardboard “letters” thru.  I started with one-digit numbers at 40 per minute.  It took me ten minutes to finally pass that lesson.  It took me another ten minutes to pass the lesson with 2-digit numbers.

But the 3-digit numbers stymied me.  I finished that first day with a better idea of what I needed to do, and I was confident I could do it with some practice.  As I recall, it took me three more days to pass that 3-digit lesson at the top speed.   Success!  I was ready to be hired!

In reality, it was nearly two years before I received the letter to report for duty and be sworn in as a postal employee working on the MPLSM.  But I was informed I would need to pass additional training to be kept on past my probation. 

Once again, I was given a training program with a clear outline, and a final target of keying cards with actual addresses on them, this time learning to use the upper keyboard as well in combination with the lower keys – very much like learning to type and reaching for keys outside of the home row.

This time it was 3-digit numbers based on the address or company name, using a combination of lower and upper keys, sorting 250 “letters” with a 98% accuracy rate.  That meant having 5 errors or fewer in 250 attempts! 

Daunting?  Yes.  But I also knew exactly what I needed to do to be successful here.

And so I continued my postal career, moving into the training department after six months, and learning how to explain training goals to my fellow employees were now my “students”.  That point was hammered home to me by the senior instructors, and I made sure from then on that one of the first things I did when conducting a new training class on the first day was to let the participant know what objective they should be achieving, particular when measurable targets were involved.

How about you?  Do you have general goals, but no clear objectives?  No real targets, numbers, or general concepts you need to be reaching or achieving?  If you don’t, your likelihood of success is reduced by a factor of 10, 100, or more.

As I’ve mentioned before, I met Ron Allan, who showed me a quality training program in which I would given clear objectives I needed to be achieving, including:

          build a home studio

          learn to record and edit at home

          learn the mechanics, mindset, and business side of voiceover

          become an independent voice artist

–       use the Internet, e-mail, and the telephone to pursue business

I had started out wanting to pursue voiceover with a general goal, but without a specific target.  If I had stayed like that without meeting Ron, and just kept wondering if there was something specific I should be doing, it is highly unlikely I would have achieved that overall goal.

How about you, the reader?  What goal have you been able to achieve once you identified exactly what targets you needed to reach?  Feel free to share by clicking on “Leave A Comment” at the top.  (NOTE:  please, NO spam messages or sales pitches, those will be deleted with extreme prejudice)

That’s it for now.  Just as info, this is my last week working for RadioForecastNetwork, and I’m going out in style, recording some of the best forecasts those listeners will ever hear.  Now I’ll be contacting those radio stations and requesting to send my demos and get my name out there some more.

I’m starting to see some progress on the business side.  Made one connection last week with a person who works in creative design, and landed a job recording a sports-theme  VO for a video promoting a new app.  And I was just notified today by a media production firm that I’ve been selected for a an eLearning job that was a direct result of a previous job I had done for them.  My goals are becoming clearer!

Until next time, remember to aim high, make sure you’re looking at a target, and keep your best voice forward.  Take care.