You’ve got your company strategy in place for the year – great. The thing is, that strategy doesn’t mean much if your team doesn’t have a plan to make that strategy become a reality. That’s when the beauty of setting goals comes into play.
Apart from helping the company achieve its objectives, setting goals with your employees can boost employee engagement and retention by ensuring that every member of your team understands their role in the overall strategy. Unsurprisingly, this can also save time and improve efficiency. Think of it this way: if a group is trying to travel from point A to point B, they’ll arrive much faster (and, likely, in much better spirits) if they have a road map. Goals are your team’s road map for the coming year.
The easiest way to incorporate goals into your company is to work them into your performance review system (for more on that, download our free eGuide). On an annual (or semi-annual) basis, sit down with each team member to evaluate objectives from the previous year, identifying obstacles and areas of improvement. Then develop the goals that will guide their development in the coming year.
To help the process run smoothly, here’s a step-by-step guide to setting goals with your staff:
1. Start with the SMART system
When it comes to setting goals with your team, a good place to start is the SMART system. All goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-related.
Specific: The more specific a goal is, the better your employee’s chances of success are. It’s a lot easier to make an action plan for, “increase traffic to online store by 30 per cent over the next three months,” than “improve web traffic.”
Measurable: Breaking your employee’s goals down into smaller, measurable elements helps them to stay on track. Consider these their goal “milestones” to hit throughout the process (more on that later).
Attainable: Asking whether a goal is even possible is crucial to the process. It’s fine for employees to be thinking big, but working toward an unattainable goal is going to waste time or resources. It can become problematic.
Relevant: This component is especially important when linking employee goals to that of the department – and of the company as a whole (again, more on that later).
Time-related: Every goal needs to have a deadline. These can be linked to review cycles or another schedule, but they should have a specific time frame in mind.
2. Align goals with the department and company
In a recent study on using goals in performance management, Bersin found that only 36 per cent of organizations have a standard, enterprise-wide approach to goal setting – which results in inconsistences in the process. To ensure that the goals of each employee align with the company as a whole, make sure you communicate the company’s mandate to all staff, and reiterate during goal-setting season to ensure that it’s top of mind. Encourage all employees to link their goals back to the strategic mandate, and to work with their colleagues to align common goals across department and teams.
3. Create an action plan
For each goal to be met, it needs an action plan. That relates to the “measurable” component of the SMART system – creating a list of milestones that the employee can use to keep their progress on track throughout the year. Another part of that action plan is ensuring that each employee has all the tools they need to achieve their goals, whether it’s an online class, new software, or other resource.
4. Track with an online program
There are several systems and programs to help companies, and their employees, set and track their goals. Companies like SalesForce, Asana, Confluence, and others, allow employees to set department and individual goals, and list the milestones they need to hit to get there. From there, they can share their progress with relevant teammates to get encouragement and collaboration.
5. Follow up (and reward)
Whether or not an employee meets their goals, it’s important that the process ends with a debriefing of some kind – again, aligning goals with performance reviews helps to ensure this communication happens, but it can take place outside this process as well. If goals are met or exceeded, a reward can engage and encourage top performers, and demonstrate the company’s acknowledgement of their efforts – whether it’s a shout out at a meeting, a note of recognition, or a gift of some kind, the effort will send the message that the company rewards hard work.
By following these steps, you can put a simple goal-setting process in place at your company – and, in turn, boost engagement, align strategy, and improve efficiency.