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Why Goal Setting Is Critical for Organizations
Goal setting is one of the most important tools that an organization can use to create change in the workplace at the individual, team, or organizational level.
Well-set goals are the key to ensuring that change is enacted within an organization. It isn’t enough to express a desire for an outcome without setting some sort of goal to achieve it. Goals must be set and progress must be measured.
Tips for Effective Goal Setting
Setting effective goals can be difficult—especially if you’re not used to setting goals frequently. The tips below will help you to create an effective goal-setting strategy.
1. Specify Goal-Setting Criteria
When your employees and their managers sit down to set their goals, it’s critical that they understand the criteria their goals should meet.
Criteria will vary from organization to organization, but any criteria set should ensure that goals will lead to positive change within the workforce.
Ineffective goal setting leaves you with unfocused goals that are difficult to measure and track. When criteria is specified, it’s easier for managers and employees to set realistic goals that will lead to improvement and development.
2. Ensure That Goals Are Challenging
Calibrating the difficulty of goals can be complicated. Employees will want to achieve, but they may be concerned that setting goals that are too difficult may set them up for failure. They may try to set more conservative goals for themselves in order to consistently hit their goals.
This can be tempting, especially if your organization makes critical business decisions based on how your employees hit or miss the goals they set. However, it is important to remember that the end result of effective goal setting is positive change.
Conservative goal setting often leads to a continuation of the status quo. If a recruiter made 20 hires last year without breaking a sweat and sets their new goal as making an additional 20 hires, it's likely that no change or employee growth will occur by achieving that goal.
Goals need to be challenging. They should push employees slightly beyond their current skill set.
Conversely, these goals should still be attainable and realistic. If an employee worked diligently one year and made 100% of their target for the year, doubling their target for next year may not be realistic.
This calibration takes time and is best done through partnership between the employee and their manager.
3. Set Up a Process to Track Goals
Goals need to be tracked throughout the process. And tracking should be more than simply checking in at the end of the process to determine whether or not the goal was achieved. This does not set up the employee for success.
There are several different ways to track goals, but the most important thing is to make sure the system you use is used across your entire organization.
If one team is using Excel spreadsheets, another Google Docs, and another the Notes app, it will be difficult for HR to compile everything when review time rolls around. Here are two options for setting up a system to track goals across an organization:
HR can implement a manual system across the company to set and track goals. An example of this would be spreadsheet software, such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
Each employee could have an individual spreadsheet that they and their manager had access to. These sheets would then be saved within a team folder that is then nestled within an organizational folder. These sheets could be easily accessed by those who need the information (managers, HR) while being housed in a centralized location.
Dedicated Performance Management Software
Building out multiple spreadsheets, making sure everyone has the right permissions, and following up on progress via email can quickly get complicated.
Performance management software lets employees set and track goals, complete frequent check-ins and formal reviews, and solicit and complete feedback in one dedicated, centralized platform.
With performance management software, employee goal progression can easily be turned into clean charts and dashboards. This provides executives, management, and team members the understanding of where employees are at in relation to their goals.
4. Frequently Revisit and Reassess Progress
Imagine that you had a goal of saving $10,000 this year. You checked your bank account on January 1, then didn’t check it again until December 31.
What are the odds that you saved that $10,000? Probably almost zero.
Just as it's difficult to hit financial goals without checking in on your progress, the same is true for organizational goals. It’s important for managers and employees to discuss goal progress regularly.
Frequent check-ins will also help employees recalibrate their goals. Maybe the original goal was to create 48 email campaigns in 6 months, but after the first monthly check-in, the team determined this was unrealistic, and the goal was altered to 24.
Goals are dynamic concepts that ultimately drive positive change. If they are no longer driving that change, they are no longer effective. Use these frequent check-ins to make sure the goals are serving employees and their development.
These tips will help you create an effective goal setting process for your organization. But the best way to create any goal-setting process is by setting really effective goals.
The power of goals starts with what you choose and how you word them. Getting that step right is necessary to see any value from your goal-setting process.
Download our free employee goal setting template to get a step-by-step guide of how to set clear, effective, and inspiring goals.