3 Tips for Setting Employee Goals That Work

Even the most high-achieving employees become demoralised when their managers set vague or poorly crafted goals. However, by working with your team to create clear and attainable objectives, you’ll see engagement deepen, business strengthen, and new talent choosing your company over your competitors. 

Plus, setting targets gives staff a motivational bullseye to aim towards, providing greater focus and direction and offering them a clear set of expectations to try and exceed. Learn how to set effective employee goals using the three invaluable pointers below.

1. Create Realistic Goals That Align with Company Objectives

Used across many industries in businesses, large and small, one well-established tool for setting employee goals is the SMART framework. Here’s what this acronym stands for and how it works: 

  • Specific: Ambiguous or con­fu­sing goals leave your team floundering, wasting valuable time as they worry about what to do and sending everyone’s stress level soaring. Instead, work with your employees to create clear-cut objectives — for example, if someone suggests “increasing traffic to the company blog”, explain why “increasing traffic to the blog by 10% by the end of the quarter” is more beneficial.
  • Measurable: No matter if the measure is quan­ti­ta­tive, like a metric or statistic, or qual­i­ta­tive — something subjective and non-numerical — all goals must be results-driven, or else no one will know if and when they’ve been accomplished.
  • Achievable: While goals should be challenging, a lack of knowledge or resources might make them over-ambitious and unrealistic, causing feelings of frustration and discouragement amongst your team.
  • Relevant: Ensuring every goal ties to the company’s overall growth strategy gives staff members a better understanding of how their roles and responsibilities feed into the bigger picture. Offering transparency and increased accountability is the fuel that’ll drive your employees towards more significant wins.
  • Time-based: All goals need a concrete deadline to help track progress and create a sense of urgency, motivating the individual to push forward. Try keeping the timeframe under six months to avoid objectives becoming irrelevant.

2. Ensure Goal Setting Is a Collaborative Process

It can be tough for managers to hand over the reins, especially if they already have certain goals in mind for their team. But, ultimately, no one knows the job better than the people doing it day in, day out. By asking employees to identify what they believe their objectives should be, they’ll relish the opportunity for autonomy and you’ll hear some insightful answers. 

However, this doesn’t mean those leading the process should step back entirely — point out where goals can be improved based on the SMART model mentioned above and continue offering guidance and support through to completion.

3. Reward Success and Guide Staff That Struggle

Employee goals make it clear who to recognise and reward and who needs additional coaching. It’s essential to honour the efforts of those who go the extra mile, whether it’s with financial incentives, extra days off or public acknowledgements at staff meetings or in newsletters. Failing to do so will cause people to lose interest in meeting objectives, grinding productivity to a halt and triggering them to look for work elsewhere. 

Ideally, managers should be continually tracking progress and stepping in whenever assistance is required. However, there’ll always be instances when goals don’t get met. Using intuitive and engaging performance management software, such as Clear Review, makes it incredibly easy to give feedback and have those meaningful conversations when things go awry. By fostering a culture of open communication and encouraging your team to learn from failed objectives, you’re sure to see even more successes the next time around.

Currently Advanced’s Director of Talent Transformation & Insight, Nick Gallimore provides thought leadership and consulting around the execution of HR transformation. Having led Advanced’s own transformation in his previous role as Director of Talent & Reward, Nick provides Talent Management expertise across Talent Acquisition, Learning, Performance Management and Reward.

Author: Editorial Team

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