Help set goals for your employees

You might be wondering why you would spend time as a business owner to help your employees to set goals. In fact, there are many good reasons to do so. Setting goals for and with your employees can benefit your employees and your company.

Employee goals will benefit both you and your company, but it’s pertinent that those goals are properly set. There’s a very specific way to set employee goals in a collaborative manner that will have an outcome benefiting both your employee and the company.

Make it collaborative

When you’re setting goals with your employees, make it a collaborative process. When goals are decided upon by your employees, they will feel more invested in achieving those goals. If you just assign a goal to your employee, they may not be interested in working toward it.

Make them SMART

The best goals are SMART goals. This means that the goals are Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

  • Specific: A well-defined goal is specific. A specific goal should let employees know what is expected, when it’s expected, and how much is expected. The narrower and more specific a goal, the more likely it is to be achieved and completed.
  • Measurable: Milestones should be set so that achieving your goal is measurable. If you don’t have a milestone, you won’t know if when or if you’ve met your goal.
  • Attainable: A goal shouldn’t be too easy or too hard. If a goal isn’t attainable by an average employee, it isn’t a reasonable goal. Achieving a goal should be a challenge, but something that is too hard will be discouraging, and an employee might stop trying. A goal that is too easy to attain may not serve the purpose of motivating the employee.
  • Relevant: A relevant goal is one that will have the greatest impact upon your employee and the business. When setting goals for employees, the relevance should be assessed twofold: for your employee and your business.
  • Time-bound: A good goal should have a time requirement. A goal without a deadline is less likely to be achieved. A time-bound goal offers more motivation for an employee to achieve the goal.

Goal alignment

The point of goal alignment is to make sure that the goal that you and your employee set together will have benefits for your employee and the company.

The alignment of the goal can be critical to your business’s success. One of the ways you can help your employees to design goals that align with your business success is to have a clearly communicated business goal and mission.

Once your business’s goals and mission are communicated to the rest of the company, managers, employees, and departments can all create goals that will satisfy their desire for improvement and align with those of the company.

Create a plan

Once you’ve set a goal with an employee, it’s important to discuss the plan of action for achieving that goal. A plan is especially important if the goal is large, difficult to achieve, or long-term. You can think of a plan as periodic check-ins breaking down the larger goal into smaller goals.

A plan should include what to do when you’re derailed. A goal isn’t achieved in a vacuum, so problems are common. When planning, also consider resources that the employee has and who he can rely upon.

Plan for bad days

As an employee works toward a goal, there are bound to be bad days, days where goals aren’t met, or work toward the goal doesn’t progress. Without a contingency plan, it’s easy to get discouraged by a few bad days and to completely give up on the goal.

Plan for the worst and what to do when bad things happen, and your employee will have an easier time achieving their goal.

If the goal isn’t met

Sadly, when making goals with employees, it’s important to include a discussion or write down a provision for what happens if the goal isn’t met. If the goal is more about learning a new skill to achieve a promotion, the obvious answer is that if the goal isn’t achieved, they won’t be promoted. For other goals, the consequences may be bigger and for some, smaller.

If a goal is mostly for the employee’s benefit and only tangentially affects the company, there may be no consequence from the employer if the employee doesn’t meet the goal.

Consistent goal setting

Some goals will be more personal for employees than other goals. If the goal is for an employee to receive a promotion, it’s important that employees of similar levels are given similar goals. This tip is simply about treating employees fairly.

If one employee must achieve three tasks before receiving a promotion, an employee of a similar level shouldn’t be required to achieve five tasks before receiving a promotion. Be consistent when setting goals with employees and giving awards for achieving goals.

Reward employees who achieve goals

When an employee achieves one of the goals that you’ve set for them, they should be rewarded. Achievement of a goal is in itself rewarding, but it’s important for there to also be an extrinsic reward for their efforts.

A reward for an employee achieving their goals might be a promotion, a bonus, new benefits, time off, or a company celebration. The reward should fit the level of goal that was achieved.

Though a goal in and of itself can be motivating, knowing that there is a reward at the end of the hard work when a goal is achieved can help to further motivate employees to achieve the goal that has been set.

When to set goals

It’s also useful to discuss here when it might be necessary to set goals. Goals can be used in a number of capacities. You may help your employees to set goals to benefit themselves and the business.

You might also help employees to set goals to reduce performance gaps, growth gaps, opportunity gaps, and training gaps.

Performance gaps

A performance gap might be noticed or identified by an employee’s manager or during an annual check-in. A goal can be designed around fixing an employee’s performance gap. A goal that’s designed to fix a performance gap should strongly focus on many small goals with periodic due dates.

Another important aspect of setting goals to address a performance gap is feedback. The employee who has a performance gap needs consistent check-ins and feedback from management to make sure that they’re working toward their goals.

Growth gaps

A growth gap is most likely identified by the employee himself. A growth gap is considered an area of knowledge or skills in which an employee would like to learn or improve. Goals around a growth gap should have a clear-cut achievement plan so that employees know how to advance in their careers.

Opportunity gaps

When an opportunity arises for an employee, they will desire to know what goals they must achieve to take advantage of that opportunity. Growth gaps are very similar to opportunity gaps.

Training gaps

A training gap is most often noticed when hiring a new employee or career planning. These gaps are areas of knowledge, skills, or competencies in which an employee is lacking. Goals can be set for the employee to achieve to close the training gap.

There are so many benefits that can be achieved personally and for the business when an employer works to set goals with their employees. Setting and achieving goals can be highly rewarding intrinsically, but it can also be an opportunity to offer employees and extrinsic reward within the company.

Achieving goals benefit a company by creating better, more motivated employees. The goals set by an employer and employee are often designed to help an employee to grow by learning new knowledge or new skills. Employees who achieve their goals are also great leaders for other employees to continue to achieve goals. Closing growth, opportunity, and training gaps can greatly benefit a company.

Remember, when making goals with your employees, make sure they’re SMART. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Goals that follow this SMART structure are goals that are more likely to be achieved and have long-lasting effects on the person who achieved them.

Interested in workspace? Get in touch.