The Border Collie Chronicles

Observations from (arguably) the World's Smartest Dogs;
(but, without question, the bestest friends!)
or, Life As We Understand It, as told from dad's shop.

Posted November 2, 2011


Setting Goals (expectations and … realizations)

by Gall (a Border Collie, hereafter referred to as BC)

Setting Goals 1
Ain't that pretty!!

Setting Goals 2
It's Raining!  (in 2007)

Setting Goals 3
Composing my next Story!

Setting Goals 4
The creation of this article!

Setting Goals 5
Just enjoying a bean!

Setting Goals 6
On the prowl for a rabbit!

Setting Goals 7
Look Out!

Setting Goals 8
Oooooh!  Bad Bean!

Definitions of 'goal' as searched from (noun)

1. aim

2. the end point or target in a race or game

3. single score in various games


I believe that goals are a good thing for a “crew” (not “Team” – keep reading) to shoot for!  Me, my two sisters, my mom, and a brother try REALLY HARD to meet goals established by Dad.


Fortunately, they are typically goals that are achievable – as you know BC’s are often over achievers and we are always ready for an “opportunity”.


When Dad put in a tree nursery in the back trap, we were excited.  We knew that rabbits would be a problem – but we thought that we had it all under control.  We got seven rabbits in the FIRST NIGHT alone!!  We were ecstatic!!  Dad praised us … but the next day, he put out notice BC (that’s Border Collie, remember) 123.  Well BC-123 outlined his expectations that we were expected to catch 21 rabbits – further, this was divided as follows:  Me (the star athlete) – 5 rabbits; Patches (a crippled dog) – 5 rabbits; Annie (a 10 month old pup that has the attention span of a rope) – 5 rabbits; Rooney (the Mom of us all and who is on arthritis medicine now) – 5 rabbits; and Bubba (a boy who is as slow and as clumsy as his name implies) – 1 rabbit.


Well, at first, I didn’t have too much concern over BC-123 since I had caught six of the seven rabbits on the previous night.  But then I got to thinking – Yeah, I know that Dad hates it when I do that without his permission (but hey … I’m a BC!) – it didn’t seem right that the crippled dog (that’s Patches) should be expected to catch as many rabbits as me (again, I AM the Star Athlete with the Prime Territory)!  The territory that she covers is smaller than me … but there is not a lot in her territory to attract rabbits.  And Annie – yeah she is active – but her territory is HUGE!  She spends the bulk of her time running back and forth (plus with that big rock patch in the middle of her territory, there are just not many rabbits there!)  Mom (that’s Rooney to ya’ll), taught me all she knew about rabbits (and that’s a BUNCH) she’s what you call Wabbit Rise (err … I mean Rabbit Wise), plus, she’s got a pretty good part of the nursery … but, with all of Dad’s activity – it’s starting to get built up and the rabbits just don’t hang out there much anymore!  And Bubba – it goes without saying – despite how great I am – it appears that HE is Dad’s favorite!  Why only one rabbit??!!  He is much bigger than any of us – and he’s got pretty prime rabbit territory (he may need to do a little “baiting” – but I understand that that is legal!)  All this and he only has to catch ONE rabbit – what’s that all about??


I did some analysis using the latest Rabbit Census Data (RCD) provided by the good ol’ Extension Agent (you do know that they provide the official data on rabbits per sector – whether they eat our trees or not) – now, I didn’t go to any fancy-smancy school and I seldom wear a coat and tie (I’m kind of what you see is what you get kinda girl!) but if Dad, or even Mom (human – not Dog), would’ve asked, I would have tried my dangdest to ‘splain (like David has always told me to do) that probably the best approach to establishing these quotas would be to INITIALLY have each of us catch the same percentage of rabbits based on the good ol’ Extension Service data.  THEN, before Dad set out this expectation (because you know that as BC’s, we all strive to meet his expectations – though sometimes we have to rap Annie on the head to keep her attention) it probably would have been good for Dad, or even Mom (the human again), to discuss their expectations with us.  I think that they would be surprised – because I would have told them that I could catch more cottontails than jack’s if they would combine my territory with Patches.  Patch just ain’t that quick (since she’s crippled and all you know) – but since she is a bunch bigger than me, she can handle those big ol’ jack’s a whole lot better – she is the Jack Master!  So we have kind of a symbiotic relationship that no one really knows about because we are just trying to get the job done and we figure that it’s easier to get forgiveness that it is to get permission!!  Plus, Momma Roo – she’s working with the “SweetSea” and can really capitalize on that relationship – some of us don’t benefit from that at all.  Annie – if she can just get a little bit more training and understanding from Dad – can probably meet her expectations, it’s just that she might require a little more attention.  And Bubba – dear sweet little ol’ (actually he is HUGE, a freak of nature for a BC if you ask me!) brother – I doubt he can meet even this goal … but, he’s Dad’s favorite, and Dad’s friends seem to like him pretty well too – so I guess I’ll just have to keep picking up his slack.  Really though – I think that he should have his Rabbit Catching authority taken away and be relegated to a “Porch Holder Downer” – but I still love him, he’s my brother!


Anyway – I ‘spect none of us (except me of course, since I am the star athlete of the bunch) will meet the established goals.  This is the realization part of my story:   In review, I (we) hope that Dad has the realization that if he would have just visited with us – the ones that do the tasks that he wants to accomplish – instead of sitting in his shop drinking beer with all of his rabbit hating friends – that we could have provided our, on the ground input and our gained insights on the particulars of our different areas and we could’ve helped him in developing the goals forour pack where all of us (including him) could’ve been winners.  But since he got that new “gimmee cap” from the, I think … Studebaker dealership … he’s been almost impossible to live with.  It seems that he has all of the answers and doesn’t even ask us anymore.


So, In summary , I’d like to address some points that I oversaw in Dad’s AgLearn Training that he took last month (yeah – like ya’ll, to accomplish it all, he takes stuff home to do on his NWD):

  • Plan jointly:  Writing a performance plan for each employee can be draining.  If you involve employees in selecting and defining their measurable standards, not only do you reduce your work load, but employees also “own” the standards.  Employees often don’t have a choice about “what” they must do, but including them in defining “how” and “how well” the work is to be done improves morale and productivity.

  • Write measurable standards:  Standards exist so employees have specific, objective information about what is expected as they execute their duties.

  • Specific, objective standards are clearly written, free from ambiguities/biases/personal feelings or opinions.  Finite measures specify the difference between satisfactory work and less-than-satisfactory work.

  • Observable.  If written standards and measures are observable, then you can easily monitor performance to decide whether the standard has been met. Outcomes should measure quality, quantity, timeliness, and/or cost-effectiveness.

  • Written to the Fully Successful level.  Measurable standards should reflect the required level of performance and expected results for the job.  A fully experienced and competent employee will consistently meet performance standards for the job, given circumstances within his or her control.

  • Measures must be written in a way so employees can exceed the satisfactory level.  Ranges can be used in numeric measures to do that.

  • Involve your employees throughout the Planning phase.  Collaborating with your employees on annual performance plans increases the likelihood that measurable standards will be credible and employees will meet or exceed them.

  • Employee involvement typically occurs during the performance planning meeting, if not before. Remember that this is not best practice, but a minimal requirement.

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