Britt Miller

Britt Miller

  • Employees and high fives

For a business to be successful, it goes without saying that employees must also strive to be successful. Employers should make a consistent effort to assist employees with various aspects of their careers. That would naturally include setting better goals for the benefit of the whole organization.  

Regular, two-way communication with employees where honest feedback is encouraged really helps. If goals are simply set once per year, in or around annual appraisals, there is a good chance they’ll be forgotten. Employees will also take their goals less seriously if they feel that they were designed with only company interests in mind.

It makes the most sense to work with employees to come up with collaborative goals that clearly benefit both employee and business; after all, the goals should align with the company vision, but the employee must also be inspired to work toward them.

The following 4 steps will undoubtedly inspire your employees to set and achieve better goals:

  1. Redefine the company mission

A company mission is an all-important guide for everyone in the business. It keeps people on track and serves as a reference point for everything from analyzing progress to devising strategies and setting new goals. When everyone in your company is clear about what the company stands for, attitudes can align. The transparency this brings makes it more obvious to employees what they personally should be aiming for.

Conversely, if employees are not particularly aware of where the organization is headed, they are likely to have a much narrower focus; their attention won’t move much beyond the parameters of their own daily routine. Under those circumstances, it’s much harder for employees to set worthy goals, let alone stick to them.

Take a look at the company mission. Is it current? Is it relevant? Is it something your employees can relate to, whatever their position? Or is it something that might come across as distant and irrelevant to their individual roles?

A great company mission would be presented in a way that feels inclusive to the workforce. It should include goals that imply the effort of the workforce is needed. Being clear on business-wide strategies and objectives will make all the difference; regular updates on mission progress will also help.

  1. Support employees in the goal setting process

If employees are left to their own devices when setting goals, there will be several issues. For one, there will be no consistency throughout the workforce. Another issue may be that goals are not particularly well aligned with company progress. Employees won’t feel supported, and they may struggle to come up with plausible or attainable goals in the first place.

When the employer collaborates with employees, it changes everything for the better. It’s not enough to simply tell employees to set some goals based on company mission or yearly appraisals. When managers take time to sit and brainstorm worthy goals with the employees, they are much more likely to feel inspired and supported.

In order to make sure that goals are aligned with company mission, it’s a good idea to use the popular ‘SMART’ framework:

  • Specific: Goals should be as clear and detailed as possible – no grey areas.
  • Measurable: A method of analysis should be set up so employees can track progress.
  • Attainable: Goal should be realistic and achievable so employees can succeed.
  • Relevant: Employee goals should be closely aligned with the goals of the company.  
  • Timely: Time frames should be specified to keep people focused and on track.

Cross-reference the goals of different employees to ensure everyone is playing their part in the bigger picture. Duplicate efforts could be unnecessary, whereas focused employees with uniquely tailored goals can really speed up company progress.

When this part of the process is transparent, each employee gets a sense of purpose and collaboration. They also feel more accountable, inspiring them to make more effort to achieve their goals.

  1. Analyze past performance honestly

It is useful to assess each employee’s past goals, and the way they went about achieving them. If an employee hasn’t consistently achieved their goals, the goals themselves should be analyzed too. Perhaps the goals weren’t specific enough. Perhaps they weren’t particularly inspiring for the employee. Maybe they weren’t aligned with the company vision, so the point was unclear or not motivating.

If an employee has not managed to achieve goals in the timeframes set previously, it is clear that more assistance and feedback should be offered throughout the process. When the employee receives this support, the chances are they’ll achieve their goals; they may then feel more confident about going for more complex goals in the future.

Employers should set dates for regular reviews of employees’ performance and goal progress. Once per quarter should be enough to keep employees focused. Employees should also be encouraged to seek assistance or advice at any time between reviews so that progress remains steady.

Another idea is to ask employees how they felt about the past goals they were set. Encourage them to be honest about what interested them and what didn’t; what they found difficult about the process, and the goals themselves. This will help tailor future goals to the specific needs and abilities of each employee.

  1. Help employees set goals that benefit their careers

Nothing is more inspiring to your workforce than career progression. If you come at goal setting with a focus on company growth only, employees may feel more like cogs in a machine. When the goals are tailored toward each individual’s progress, they are much more likely to feel inspired.

Get together with your employees to find out where they want to go within the organization. If their goals can be aligned with this as much as possible, they will be far more motivated to achieve the goals within the timeframes set. Brainstorm new ideas with them so that they can be creative about their career progression. For example, is there a new course available that will boost the employee’s knowledge in their area of work?

Encourage them to think about what their future with your company would look like and set goals that are supportive of that. To avoid overwhelming them, it can help to break larger goals down into smaller segments. This also helps people to focus on increments rather than looking at the big picture and feeling under pressure.

To conclude, provided that your managers stick to the SMART framework when setting goals with employees, progress is almost guaranteed. When goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely, everybody has objectives to focus on a clear plan of action. It’s a win-win methodology for everyone involved.

This is a guest post: 

Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler — a scheduling and payroll workforce management software founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.