Encouraging and setting employee goals is important for a healthy mindset, and will ultimately benefit not only the team, but the company’s success as well. Here are a few tips!
Goal setting is more than just a metric for performance – it’s an important motivational tool. It’s one that can help teams and organizations come together during these difficult times, when most of us feel isolated rather than part of something bigger than ourselves.
But when setting goals, you have to come up with ideas that are attainable, sensible, and provide both individual and organizational incentives – helping employees and businesses alike feel that they are making progress on a day-to-day basis, rather than simply getting by.
Tip 1: When Goal Setting, Work Backwards
Goals should either be aspirational or grounded, but with the intent of supplementing a greater dream. Whether we’re talking about individual employee goals, personal goals, or the goals of an organization, the goal setting process must always begin with the fundamental question of: what do we want to achieve?
At its core, every business has a vision it wishes to fulfill, driven either by its founders or its workers. Identifying that vision and defining what it might mean to fulfill that vision in 2020 should be the first step towards setting goals in a COVID world. How can you make a meaningful impact in the industry you inhabit over the coming months?
As for individual employee goals, the key is identifying a professional benchmark, as well as an educational one. The modern employee is one who embraces change – jumping at the opportunity to develop horizontally and vertically, picking up relevant skills in different fields and specializing towards the future.
Start by identifying an aspirational goal, then developing the benchmarks that you feel are most relevant to that dream or vision. Then identifying the individual monthly, weekly, and daily goals that would lay the foundation for your organization’s success, or an individual’s success.
Tip 2: Create Goals Around Achievable & Trackable Metrics
Goal setting is most effective when it leverages today’s wide range of existing data analysis tools and productivity metrics. If your ultimate goal for the year is to be the premier service in a specific region, identify the metrics that are most relevant to that goal – such as increasing the number of targeted ads you’re using in your marketing campaigns, shifting towards more local engagement, and picking up at least an extra client every month from key neighborhoods.
The same goes for individual employee goals during remote work. If you want to improve on your performance while working from home, consider tracking the amount of work you get done over a week’s total hours, picking smaller goals that help you improve that ratio. Examples would be:
- Eliminating avoidable distractions (such as mid-shift doomscrolling),
- Better organizing tasks and projects,
- Utilizing surveys to gauge and improve customer support,
- Creating a better system for organizing and sorting research,
- Reducing the total amount of weekly meetings,
- And more.
The use of day-to-day goals to gauge and improve performance will vary in both type and effectiveness. For example, it’s easier to track productivity when working at a call center, versus working the desk as a book editor.
In such cases, tracking measurable data can come at a cost of losing the forest for the trees, and focusing on the speed of a task over its quality. This is where employers and employees have to navigate goal setting together – and identify goals that would balance and satisfy a business’ need for growth with the professional’s desire for self-improvement and ensure the two never need to conflict.
Tip 3: Employee Goals Should Be Incentivized
Some goals are self-incentivizing, such as the goal to improve in one’s field, learn a new skill, or work towards a promotion. These goals all share the basic principle of personal progression, and the goal itself is the reward.
But when a business’ goal becomes an employee’s performance metric, additional incentive might be needed to help employees strive to achieve those goals. These incentives can also help employees feel that they’re being rewarded for a business’ success – and that the better they do, the better the company does, and the better the company does, the better they do.
Emphasizing this connection is especially important now, where many of us haven’t been able to return to an office setting, or redevelop ties with our fellow officemates, or the company’s culture and identity.
Whenever employees are given goals such as landing three clients this quarter, meeting a deadline for a application’s development, or improving the results on a biannual customer survey, incentivizing these goals is important – both through recognition and credit, and through compensation.
Tip 4: Include Employees in the Goal Setting Process
Management needs to include employees in the goal setting process, as they’re key to determining what’s needed and what’s attainable. Too often, the problem with goal setting is the fact that there remains a dissonance between leadership in a company and the company’s workers, and workers end up struggling under unrealistic deadlines or expectations that don’t match up with reality.
By ensuring that each team or individual is represented depending on the size of the business, managers can set more effective goals for individuals and the total organization alike.
Tip 5: Relevant and Time-Bound
The last two letters of the popular SMART goal-setting acronym represent the qualities of Relevant and Time-Bound goals, emphasizing that it’s important to pick and set goals that reflect the company’s and employee’s current needs, while imposing an attainable deadline that encourages performance without accidentally incurring the opposite through work-related anxiety. Especially in a time like this, where burnout is not just a plausible risk, but a seeming inevitability.
This ties back into the importance of making sure employees are represented or take part in the goal setting process. This helps ensure that realistic goals are not only set, but also met.
Remote workers can pitch in on monthly or quarterly meetings to chime in on or suggest company and individual goals, and comment on what kind of a timeframe they can support without burning out.
While there should be a boundary between personal and professional lives, there is always going to be overlap in places where employees are comfortable enough with one another to talk about non-work-related subjects, such as personal interests and hobbies.
Setting goals isn’t just important for the survival of a business during COVID, or for the continued professional improvement of an employee, but they’re important for a person’s own psyche as well, giving us something to strive towards and provide us with more structure.
A company could encourage remote employees to share both personal and professional goals through the company’s network and discuss or share whenever a personal or professional goal is met.
Landing a client, hitting a new personal record, finishing the tenth book of the month, or reaching a milestone in a personal project are things to be appreciated and celebrated. This helps give employees the sense that they’re part of a larger network, and encourage them to continue working on their goals.