Goal setting in the workplace is supposed to help everyone in your organization. If it’s done right, employees receive a morale boost and discover a clear path to the next steps in their career development. If management collaborates with employees on their goals, the workforce gets revitalized and focused on the metrics that matter most to them—and helps the company reach its strategic objectives. For its part, ownership (including shareholders) gets a team that’s more engaged as well as a new focus on the actions and behavior that deliver the revenue and profit results they need.
As you likely know, it’s not always done right. Setting appropriate employee goals is a key to motivating your team. However, determining what’s “appropriate” isn’t always obvious either. How do you decide?
Here are some common problems that can compromise goal setting in the workplace, and how to avoid them.
Goal Setting in the Workplace: Avoiding Common Problems
There are many ways to analyze your organization’s goal-setting process. McKinsey & Co. and Forbes each have their own three-step processes. McKinsey recommends both top-down and bottom-up goal setting. Forbes notes that most people start with the milestones they have to hit along the way to achieving the overall goal. They suggest celebrating the past year’s achievements and reassessing overall strategy for the coming year before heading straight for the calendar and project management programs.
Then there’s the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting technique.
Mnemonics are fun!
The following problems & solutions should give you an idea of how the right initial approach will save troubleshooting and second-guessing later.
Problem: Top-Down Goal Assignment
If you want someone to be engaged in their work and driven to achieve by being intrinsically interested in what they’re doing, you’ll need their buy-in. You don’t get that with top-down goal assignment.
Solution: Identify Management’s Business Goals
To make the goals both top-down and bottom-up, include the business goals of management and ownership as well. It’s a great way to connect everyone on the team to the goal and demonstrate a clear connection between individual work and the organization’s broader accomplishments.
Problem: Workplace Goals are Split from Business Strategy
The best work in support of a goal happens because workers aren’t cogs. If they don’t have any insight into how their goals support the large business strategy, engagement tends to drop.
Solution: Show How Employee Goals Contribute to Company Goals
To address this problem, give employees a bigger picture of how they contribute to the organization’s strategic objectives. This seemingly simple action pays additional dividends over time. That first “Here’s what we’re gonna do” becomes “Here’s what we’ve accomplished,” when you get a chance to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments.
Problem: New Year, Same Old Goals
Next year, you’ll work to increase employees’ standards of living, company revenue, or overall profit (hopefully all three). For effective performance in the long-term, you need to strive for these types of goals anyway. However, standard goals like these need to reflect market and industry changes as well as employee demands.
Solution: Adapt and Advance,
If your business deals with seasonality or other fluctuations, you can adjust goals as needed to account for these realities.
To keep your team focused on the metrics or other milestones that will best help your organization achieve its mission, make sure you close the feedback loop with a properly-structured public recognition and rewards program. Rewarding your top achievers with worthwhile tangible goods sends a strong message about the type of work you value.
Inproma’s recognition and rewards-based incentive programs are proven to increase employee engagement and motivation. If your team could use a boost to hit its strategic goals, or your current incentive program just isn’t getting the job done, we should talk.