Goal-setting is crucial to business growth and employee development. However, many employers fail at helping their staff create meaningful goals. Employees want to know what’s expected of them and what “success” looks like. More importantly, they want to be engaged with their goals and see how their contributions align with the bigger picture.
The first step toward setting better goals is identifying what mistakes are being made. Following are some of the most common mistakes that employers make and tips on how to improve goal setting to empower employees to succeed:
The common concept of SMART goals is popular because it actually works. The acronym stands for making goals “specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.”
Unfortunately, most people don’t have a clear vision, so they won’t feel inspired to act. Athletes, for example, set clear performance goals and work tirelessly until they achieve them. They keep their vision in their heads and even use visualization techniques to stay motivated. It’s hard to imagine succeeding at something that isn’t defined and specific.
Tip: Develop a vision that is tangible and specific. When employees are clear on what they want to do, they have a better understanding of the consequences of falling short and the benefits of achievement.
Encourage them to write their goals down and keep them visible to stay motivated. A 2014 study published by Palgrave Communications found that when college students used a writing technique as a goal-setting intervention, they improved their academic achievement and boosted their retention rates. The act of writing goals helps people focus and hone in on what’s most important.
The same idea of keeping goals visible applies to the employer side of goal-setting. This is why it’s important to track progress and keep an eye on how employees are staying on course. When employers don’t measure employee progress, how do they know what employees need to do to hit their target?
Tip: Invest in a performance-management tool to track employees and give them a visual on the bigger picture. Visuals like charts and graphs are ideal for showing employees their progress and for helping them understand how goals are structured and cascaded.