Managing People

How Goal Setting Can Drive Employee Engagement

By Advanced Resources on February 8, 2019

A common buzz phrase in the workplace: goal setting. Goal setting is meant to advance career growth and increase productivity, encouraging employees to set realistic expectations that fit within their role. Managers will then provide resources and tools to their employees to help them meet or exceed their goals. This is commonplace across all industries, but what’s not commonplace is the process of goal setting.

Defining Goals

Employees should be part of the goal-setting conversation; they should also be included in the development of goals and the discussion around what’s important to the business, the team and their career growth. All three of these should be linked.

Goal Setting for Employee Engagement

According to McKinsey, 91% of companies with an effective performance management system say that their employees’ goals are linked to the company’s goals. This is crucial in identifying how an employee’s skill set will fit into the bigger picture. However, the employee’s career track should also somehow fit into the overall priority of the company. If an employee feels like a cog in the machine – benefiting the company with their expertise but not getting anything out of it for themselves – they might not stick around for much longer.

Establishing Targets

Targets create a sense of motivation – whether monthly, quarterly or yearly. It’s important to encourage employees to garner accountability and understand how these shorter-term goals will impact the business. In this process, managers have the opportunity to check up on their employees, ensuring that key milestones are met on the way to the goal finish date.

Steps 1-3: Where You're At

  1. You’re the most important person on your career path, so forget about your significant other’s hopes or your parents’ dreams. Set a timer and brainstorm. Ask yourself what you want more of, less of, the most—and write down your answers.
  2. Make a list of the things you do in your job every day, and then make a list of the things that you enjoy. Now compare the two lists
  3. Evaluate your present skill set, strengths and weaknesses. Are you great at training, crunching numbers, evaluating people? Where could you use immediate improvement?

Autonomy & Accountability

By creating a sense of support, autonomy and accountability, employees will feel more empowered to take ownership over the projects they’re producing and managing. Because of this, they’ll likely put in the extra effort rather than taking the back seat when being micromanaged. 71% of people who have been micromanaged say that it impacts their job performance (NFIB). So, instead of providing exact directions, managers should provide their employees with the appropriate resources and let them lead the way. This will help employees hit their goals more efficiently, which will then help the company prioritize its responsibilities and areas of opportunity.

And if the employee’s goals are not met by the intended target date, managers should hold their direct reports accountable while reflecting inwards to understand why goals weren’t met and what could have been done differently from a managerial standpoint. Everyone plays a role in accomplishing a set goal. Yes, the goal setter remains the owner and project manager, but there are key players throughout the journey. All stake holders have to work together, and while the goal setter may have dropped the ball, there might have been other communication faults at play that affected the outcome, and that should be addressed in the future.

Creating a productive environment for your employees will lead them to be comfortable with creating and owning goals. With support, recognition and autonomy, employees will feel a sense of value within the organization.

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