Best Practices in HR

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Dave Rietsema
  February 2, 2018

6 Tips for Setting Goals with Employees

Taking the time to set goals for employees can help you to increase productivity within your workforce, while also improving employee contentment. Good employees want to do well for the company, but may not know exactly what is expected or what would be helpful. Setting goals breaks down these expectations into easy-to-understand tasks that can coordinate efforts.

Guide Employees, but Let Them Set Goals

Employee goals that are set by the employees themselves are more likely to seem attainable to those employees. Sitting down one-on-one or working together through email or messaging to set goals with employees will allow you to provide advice and guidance, while letting employees do the actual goal setting. Be wary of criticizing employees or questioning their goals, as these behaviors may discourage employees and foil your efforts.

Help Employees See the Big Picture

Employees don’t always understand all that goes into an operation, since they are occupied with their part in that operation every day. When you work with employees to set goals, it’s an opportunity to help employees see the big picture more clearly and identify exactly how their job fits into that. Understanding how their job and actions impact the organization may be motivating and will help to bring your team’s efforts together.

Make Sure Goals Are “SMART”

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Setting goals that fit these criteria makes it possible to track progress on the goals while maximizing the value of the set goals to the organization. Reviewing each goal that the employee sets to ensure that these criteria are met can help reaffirm the employee’s commit to the goals and establish a timeline for achieving them.

Focus on Cooperation, Not Competition

While competition can be helpful in some aspects of work life, it’s better to focus on cooperation when it comes to individual goal setting. Showing employees how their efforts contribute to the good of the company as a whole can be a more productive mindset than petty competition over goals. Employees with similar responsibilities and positions should also have similar goals in terms of time spent and difficulty level.

Provide Recognition and Rewards

Employees that achieve their goals should be recognized and rewarded in ways that match the difficulty levels of the goals. Bonuses and perks can help employees to feel good about accomplishments, while also spurring motivation for the next round of goals. Failing to reward employees at all or providing rewards that are inadequate can cause employees to feel discouraged and can affect loyalty.

Work with Employees That Miss Goals

While setting goals is important, chastising or penalizing employees that miss the mark can surround goal setting with an aura of trepidation and encourage employees to set the bar a little lower. Instead of responding to missed goals with negativity, use the missed mark as a chance to help the employee see where they need to improve. Work with the employee on setting the next round of goals and assess whether there is a skills gap that needs to be addressed.