Getting your people leader’s input and understanding customer needs/requirements is a great starting point for goal setting. But how will you know that you’re on the right track given there is often a gap between what we think is needed and what our customers think is most important?

Identifying an opportunity to innovate means thinking things through from the customer’s point of view.

Paying attention to and talking to customers – be they internal or external – will help you to identify areas for learning and development at both an individual and business level.

Even just taking the time to think about your contribution from a customer perspective can provide valuable insights.

Whatever irritates a customer about the product/service you and your business provide can be a rich source of insight for innovation and enable you to take a quantum leap over your competition. Think Uber. Someone realised there was another way to get customers from one place to another that created a more pleasant experience.

From a business perspective, ask yourself: what are the friction points for customers? What aspect of my performance could change their experience for the better?

The person/people you hand off your work to can also be a valuable source of information. Find out what is frustrating them. What could make it easier for them to make the best use of what you provide? What could potentially delight them? How could you build on your capability to satisfy these needs?

Structuring your development around customer needs will ensure the capabilities that you develop will be valued by customers and make you more in demand at work.

In addition to what’s important to your leader, the business and your customer, it’s also useful to keep in mind that it is easier to work harder and longer if the development goals we set for ourselves are personally meaningful.

Recent neuroscience tells us that when we focus on goals that are personally meaningful there is a special chemical released in our brains that helps us learn and retain new information as well as making us feel good.

So when setting your goals, don’t just take into account the views of your people leader and customers; make sure to choose something that you actually care about too.