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Tips for setting effective employee goals

Harness the power of goal setting to motivate your workforce and achieve success.

When used effectively, goal setting can be a powerful tool in a leader’s kit. By closely tying an employee’s goals with overall company strategy a leader can significantly increase employee and business performance. Here are some tips on how to formulate better goals so as to help employees hit their targets.

Be SMART
Chances are you’ve heard of SMART goals. But have you actually applied these criteria when setting goals? For goals to be effective and powerful, they should be SMART, ie Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. If the goals are well defined then employees know exactly what is expected and when. By creating measurable milestones you are breaking things down, making it easier to focus and concentrate and also track progress. It’s important you set realist, attainable goals that employees can achieve with effort. It stands to reason that the goals should be relevant to the direction the company and the employee’s career are both headed towards. Keep goals aligned to overall strategy. And lastly, set deadlines so that your goals don’t get lost in daily crises and there’s sense of urgency.

Collaborate on goals
Set goals for your employees in consultation with them. What professional growth are they looking for? What do they want to learn? What are their perceived strengths that you can play to? Listen to their input to set goals that they also value and therefore motivates them. Motivation is key to them achieving their goals. Otherwise they won’t be interested in the outcome and won’t work as productively or effectively to achieve the goals.

Set challenging goals
It’s important to have clear, precise goals, but it’s equally important to have a few challenging ones. Difficult goals push people to work harder and increase performance, as opposed to easy goals that make people complacent. Challenging goals will lead to higher performance, and help improve the employee’s skills. Also people feel a great sense of satisfaction and reward after having achieved a tough task. So set goals that aren’t too easy or difficult. They should be realist and attainable, yet also challenging.

Avoid setting too many goals
If you set too many goals, chances are your employees will lose track of what’s a priority. They might take the easy way out and pick and choose the goals they want to do or are easiest to do. These might not be the high priority ones. So don’t give them an abundance of objectives to choose from. Keep in mind the Pareto principle. 20 per cent of input is responsible for 80 per cent of the final outcome. So concentrate on setting goals in a way that execution of 20 per cent of key responsibilities achieves the maximum number of goals.

Photograph: Nick YoungsonAlpha Stock Images 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz

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