20th August 2020
It’s not enough to simply give your staff a list of responsibilities and expect them to get on with their work to a top-level standard. While this may help them to understand the basis of their role at your company, they will be hard pushed to succeed without having set goals to help them meet their requirements.
Why Setting Goals for your Staff is Important
Not only does having goals help an employee to understand what they need to do in order to succeed in their job, but a breakdown of how their responsibilities fit in with the rest of the business will allow them to see how their work contributes to your wider company objectives.
Setting the right targets will help to make clear to your staff exactly what is expected of them and how their actions and performance can, and will, affect the business on a larger scale.
Setting goals is particularly important as a mechanism for providing ongoing and year-end feedback. By establishing and monitoring targets, you can give your employees real-time input on their performance while motivating them to achieve more.
How to Set Effective Goals
If a goal isn’t meaningful or effective, there’s little point in having it in the first place, so it’s important to base any goals set on your larger organisational ambitions. No matter what level the employee is at, they should be able to articulate exactly how their efforts feed into the broader company strategy, which is why it’s so important to get the goals right.
SMART goals are unmeasurably valuable as they help guide you in your endeavour to set yourself clear and focus driven targets, which will ultimately increase your chances of success in achieving them.
SMART goals are:
Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous.
Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress towards the accomplishment of the goal.
Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve.
Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your life purpose.
Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency.
Read more about SMART goals and how to set them here.
Goals should be Attainable, but Challenging
While the goals set to an employee will feed into the wider success of the company and its strategy, it is they who will be responsible for completing the action points assigned to them. Therefore, it’s important for staff to have a degree of input when goals are agreed.
This way, they are given the opportunity to agree targets that they feel are both realistic, but that will also challenge them to push themselves to expand their knowledge and skill.
When done well, goals that challenge your staff can create a lot of energy and momentum within your business. However, be careful not to set goals that are too challenging to accomplish (or even too easy).
The last thing you want is to lose that momentum and find that staff are feeling disengaged, low in morale or unproductive.
Plan for Success
Having a goal in place is all well and good, but unless you have a plan of how to meet it, then it’s more or less useless.
Sit down with your employee and break the goal down into tasks, which can be used as steppingstones to meeting the overall goal. This is especially important if you’re looking at a long-term goal or project.
Identifying any possible risks or setbacks at the start will put the employee in good stead as they move forward to complete the goal, as if anything were to crop up unexpectedly, they will be in the best position to manage that.
If there’s a set deadline, breakdown the goal into mini-deadlines. This will help the employee to manage their time more easily. Looking at an overall target and knowing it has to be done by a certain date can be confronting, but when that deadline is broken down into small, more achievable sections, it becomes easier to manage.
Having regular check-ins with your staff is a good first step in keeping on top of their progress. However, any problems or updates should not be left until the next meeting.
Make sure your staff know that they can come to you at any time if they have any questions or difficulties in meeting their targets. But don’t leave it completely down to employees to come to you.
Be proactive in checking in every so often to make sure that things are running smoothly.
Employees will appreciate the time you take to show that you are present and available, and knowing that you care about how they are doing may even encourage them to come to you more freely.
When a Goal isn’t Met
Whatever the reason, sometimes employees will fail to meet their targets. It’s important to hold people accountable when this happens without making them feel like they’re in the firing line. Figure out what went wrong and why.
If you feel that the issues were within the employee’s control, work with them to come up with a solution to prevent the same problem from recurring and ask them to take another stab at hitting the target. It may even be worth your while to check in with them more frequently to ensure that they are not struggling and know that you are available if they need any help.
You may find that the reason the goal failed was that it was simply too ambitious. In this case, discuss the reasons for this and agree on action points that will make the goal more achievable for the employee moving forward.
It’s possible that you may have contributed to the problem. Be willing to reflect on your role in the failure. Were you too hands-off and failed to check in frequently enough? Did you not review their work in a timely way? Have an open discussion about what you can do next time.
Find out how creating and keeping track of goals becomes a whole lot easier with the help of Staff Squared HR!
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