Setting Goals for Your Employees

When it comes to planning for the future, your employee’s goals are probably one of the most important things you can focus on. You can plan or predict where you would like your company to be in any number of years, but without including your employees or knowing what they want to accomplish in that time frame, you might as well be building sandcastles in the clouds (hmmm I bet this is much easier to do since the "move your files to the cloud" movement has begun).

There are two main areas of goals, job oriented and personal. While the two are separate, there are times when one affects the other. Job oriented goals are goals that through accomplishment the employee will have an impact (either direct or indirect) on the company’s numbers. These can include the bottom-line, employee stats, expense numbers or anything that the business sees value in tracking. Personal goals are goals that are focused around the employee’s personal life, the most value to accomplishing these goals will most likely be seen by the employee outside of work.

A commonly accepted way of deciding goals is to use the SMART method: make sure that all goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. SMART is great way to get started, but there are occasions where goals need to be set that do not meet one of those criteria. For example, let’s say you have a manager who is too quick to yell at his direct reports and is known for condemning other employees. Whenever there is an issue, he yells first, and then asks questions. This has led to his direct reports hiding mistakes or issues, going to other managers for help or simply pretending they did not see it, all of which make any mistake an even bigger issue than what it was to start. In this case, if the company only accepted SMART goals, the manager could not have anything about his temper as a goal. While yes you can be specific about the problem and steps to take about improving it, it is attainable, it is realistic and it can be addressed within a timely manner. The one thing it cannot be is measured. How do you measure someone’s temper? How do you measure the process he will have to go through to regain his direct reports’ trust? Trust, emotion and feeling are all relative and will show up in other ways, over time.

When the next goal planning session happens at your company, make a point to look at your employees as people in the round. Do what you can to work with your employees on all goals for your company will see all the results. Goals, milestones, achievements, call it whatever you want, they all are the same thing: the creation of an organized plan to reach a desired result.

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