There is a saying, “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” And if you aim for something without setting clear goals, you will have a much harder time hitting them.
The merits of setting goals have been substantiated by leaders in business, sports, manufacturing, construction and virtually all other fields. The key to making sure they work for you is setting the right goals. And believe it or not, there is a wrong way to set goals, which in the long run will sabotage your efforts.
This is especially the case if you are employee goal setting.
Here are five do’s and don’ts of employee goal setting you can use to motivate your employees so they can aim and hit their target every time.
Employee Goal Setting Do’s
1. Make the Goals Challenging but Achievable
The goals you set for your employees have to be practical, attainable, and realistic. If you blindly set a goal and just tell your employees to go after it, it will take much longer to accomplish, if they do at all.
If the goals you set are too high without taking into consideration their skillsets, experience, and ability, they will hit a wall. And eventually, their productivity will suffer and they will also burnout. Making goals SMART is one way to avoid these issues.
What is SMART?
- Specific – Well defined and clear
- Measurable – Specific criteria that measure what is being done to accomplish the goal
- Achievable – It is not impossible to achieve, it is attainable
- Realistic – The goal is within reach, not too outlandish for resources and capabilities you have
- Timely – It has to be accomplished in a timely manner by setting a clearly defined timeline for starting and ending dates.
A SMART goal addresses most if not all of the problems employers face when setting goals for their employees.
2. Set Short and Long-term Goals
People get motivated when they see their achievements. By planning short and long-term goals, you let your workforce see what they have achieved.
Start with long-term goals and in between these goals set short-term goals that motivates them. This not only lets them see their accomplishments, but it builds confidence, experience, and skillsets to better address the long-term goals as well as future projects.
Having a system in place to provide feedback creates a more transparent process. And transparency goes a long way in seeing where everyone is.
No matter what the metrics are, providing feedback moves the project along through each step with fewer hiccups. This includes even when the someone’s performance is not easily quantifiable; find a way to provide feedback.
4. Be Flexible
Life being what it is, you will face challenges when marching towards your goal. For your sake and that of your employees, be flexible enough to manage the hurdles with a cool head.
This will not only show you can overcome challenges, but you will also teach your employees you can triumph even when there are obstacles in the way. Have the flexibility to maneuver during these times and moving forward is key for any business, project or goal.
5. Reward Success
When the goals you have set for your employees have been accomplished, reward them for their efforts.
This can be a round of applause, but it can also be an email to everyone, a lunch, or an office party.
Recognizing your team for a job well done shows appreciation and they will be even more motivated for the next project. Speaking of that, set follow-up goals because you now know what you are capable of. So, ride the wave; don’t stop now.
Employee Goal Setting Don’ts
1. Don’t Fail to Miss Opportunities to Change your Goals
When you set goals, especially long ones, there is a tendency to be too rigid. If you fail to miss opportunities to change your goals, when it is necessary, you might miss the target entirely.
2. Don’t Forget to Reassess your Goals Frequently
This is in the same vein as failing to miss opportunities, but you first have to reassess your goals in order to make the changes.
Reassessing your goals not only ensures you are heading in the right direction, but it also catches mistakes before you’ve moved too far ahead.
3. Don’t Let Failure Deter You
If you put the right progressions in place, you will be able to catch any mistakes as they happen or soon thereafter. The key is to not let the failure deter you.
Learn from it, find an alternative option and move forward to achieve your goal.
4. Don’t Force Goals on People who Don’t want it or Can Achieve it.
Not all of the people that work for you will want or be able to meet the goals you have set for them. This is why the feedback aspect is so important to see where they stand.
5. Don’t Set too Many Goals at the Same Time
Setting too many goals is a sure-fire way to overwhelm your workforce, stretch your resources, and greatly limit the success of each goal.
If you plan according to the resources that are available to you, you can make a well-informed decision on each. You will also know what you can accomplish. Be realistic.
One Last point: Can you achieve your goals? Of course, you can. As George S. Patton said, “Achievers are resolute in their goals and driven by determination. Discouragement is temporary, obstacles are overcome, and doubt is defeated, yielding to personal victory.”
Patton also says, “You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals.” So set your goals and be resolute in achieving them, no matter who or what gets in your way.
Employee Goal Setting – Next Steps:
1. When you set your goals collaborate with employees and make sure they align with the objectives of your company.
2. Identify job-specific goals and find key employees that have the skillsets to perform the task.
3. If you have employees who are falling short, work closely with them to help them achieve their part of the project/goal.