Improve Employee Performance with Proper Goal Setting

How would you go about beating your best without any sort of goal or outline in place? Much less, goals fitting their skills and experience. A manager's purpose is to make your team members better employees and help them along their path of professional development. So how as a manager can you help employees create these appropriate and challenging goals? It’s all about asking the right questions… 

When should I set goals for my team?

This particular question is two-fold – when should you check into the progress of these goals and how. Your regular performance appraisal is a perfect opportunity to set these goals because you’re able to sit down with key team members and develop plans to complete these goals and most importantly, how they coordinate with the bigger picture. Because 60% of employees need to interact with at least 10 other employees on any given workday, it’s crucial to ensure the team’s goals are always aligned with business goals.

Who needs to be involved in completing these goals?

These performance objectives are under the umbrella of employee responsibility, yes, but it’s your responsibility to make sure your employees have the tools they need to make sure their goal progression is on track. This doesn’t necessarily mean they need the latest and greatest tools like a new computer or a popular wearable; it can be something as simple as the time to collaborate with other employees to get the best performance results. But if your team needs tech tools to accomplish goals consider some of these popular devices employees want this year:

  • Tablets for work – 23.7%
  • Project management tools – 15.1%
  • Productivity apps – 14. 5%

Use these tools between performance appraisals to establish and then assess their effectiveness in helping your team to reach their goals. If the results aren’t what you (or your employee) had hoped, go back to the drawing board and find an alternative.

Are these goals aligned to employee and organizational needs?

Your performance initiatives can only be successful if the organization has the business objectives for the management team to align with employee goals. This task seems to be under the leadership’s authority, but managers who believe this will ultimately fail, according to the Wall Street Journal:

“What should we do? That is the first question the manager must answer… What are the overall goals for my team, and for each member of the team? This may sound obvious. But it’s remarkable how many managers never get to this basic question… These managers spend their entire work life reacting – reacting to orders from above, reacting to pressures and problems from below, or simply reacting to the insistent demands of a busy workplace. If all you do is react, you will fail as a manager.”

The article goes on to explain how these types of managers might be the epitome of organizational efficiency, but reaction isn’t the recipe for managerial success. You must be prepared to align these business objectives to your team’s goals. Or in the very least, seek them out when you don’t know the answer.

What’s next?

It’s time for the next performance appraisal again, and your star pupil has reached their goals. What do you do when they’ve crossed off one of their major objectives? You give them a new one. Employees thirst for learning – i.e., professional development – and to consistently maintain high performance, they need this chance at growth. Corinne Mills (@corinnemills), Managing Director of Personal Career Management, suggests professionals set goals relevant to their areas of most difficulty:

Improving the areas you identify may mean going on a course or workshop, or you may find that mentoring, guided reading, work-shadowing, or online study is more relevant. For instance, if you know that negotiation skills are an increasingly important part of your job, perhaps your manager could arrange for you to shadow someone with exceptional skills in this area, or even coach you themselves through your next negotiation skills project.”

Improving employee performance is all about setting the right goals, but in order to do that, you need to ask the right questions. First and foremost, you have to have an idea of how and when to set these goals so you and your team can accurately measure the success and progress of these goals. Remember, setting goals doesn’t end once the objectives are met… it’s an ongoing process of an influx and goal completion.

Bio: Chris Arringdale

Chris Arringdale is the Co-Founder and President of Reviewsnap, an online performance appraisal software that allows you to customize performance management, competencies, rating scales and review periods. Reviewsnap serves more than 1,200 customers worldwide including, Penske Racing, CubeSmart, PrimeSource and Nonprofit HR Solutions.

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