When it comes to conducting an operation, being proactive is always preferred to be reactive. Careful planning and execution generally return better results than stumbling along responding to situations as they are encountered.
Setting goals for employees is a big part of planning for success, rather than hoping for the best and responding to failures. With this in mind, here’s how to achieve strong results.
1. Align Individual Goals with Overall Objectives
Imagine a rowing team within which each individual has a separate objective, rather than being tasked with pulling together as a unit. Envisioning the result is almost laughable—right? Yet, this is exactly what happens when managers fail to take the overall objectives of the company into consideration and assign goals accordingly.
When you’re setting goals for your team, make sure they contribute to organizational as well as individual growth. To this end, also make it a point to regularly communicate the strategic goals and overall mission of the company to keep operatives focused.
2. Let Your Staff Have Their Say
If you think you know an experienced employee’s job better than they do, you’re delusional. Whether your ecommerce company is selling ebooks, making shoes or writing software, nobody knows the gig better than the person doing it every day. If you want to get the maximum buy-in, encourage the members of your crew to suggest their own goals, (keeping item number one above in mind).
3. Make Them S.M.A.R.T.
How many times have you seen parents, in a misguided attempt to get a teen to improve academic performance, admonish them to just “do better”? Yes, this is a worthy goal, but to be successful, people need goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.
It’s far better to say to that teenager, “Let’s aim to raise that D to a B by the next marking period so we can ensure your academic success.” This gives them a specific goal that is measurable (raising the D to a B), achievable (raising a D to a B is doable, given a sincere effort), relevant to their future and time-based. In other words, it’s S.M.A.R.T.
Obvious, this is just an example. How can you apply this method to your own team?
4. Goals Must Appear Attainable
Setting too lofty a goal can discourage individuals from trying. Let’s look at number three above again. Trying to get a kid to raise a D to an A in one marking period—while certainly possible—could look unattainable to the youngster. As a result, they might not even try. Then again, going from a D to a B does look achievable, and raising that B to an A in the subsequent marking period will look even more so.
The perception of attainability has a direct influence upon the motivation mustered to go for it.
5. Provide Positive Reinforcement
If a division’s performance is lagging, task its entire membership with achieving the same goal and reward them when they make the grade. This can take the form of a bonus, a certificate of accomplishment, an additional perk or some other readily visible compensation. Encourage staffers to help each other, so the entire division can reap the reward.
Within that, it is also important to recognize the efforts of individuals who excel or demonstrate significant growth as it provides incentive for everyone else to try harder. However, be careful to avoid competition. This can diminish morale and undermine teamwork.
6. Offer Assistance Where Needed
All people have their own pace and those who aren’t successful right away aren’t necessarily failures. In most cases they just need a bit more attention. When their goals aren’t met, open a dialogue and to try to determine what happened. Encourage them to give it another shot and work with them to get there.
Setting goals for employees has been proven to improve performance and efficiency, thereby increasing productivity. Doing so based upon the above advice will help you get staff buy-in, thereby advancing the odds of your success.