Once you have met with your employee to review his performance over this past year, it is important to focus on improvement and continued skill development. Clearly put – it’s time to set some goals. Begin with the end in mind – what are your company’s AND employee’s objectives when it comes to the upcoming year and beyond? How can you align these two perspectives so everyone grows? Asking these questions is a solid way to start the goal setting discussion – not to mention generate some great ideas on how your employees can contribute to the bottom line (making you look good in the process!). Help your employees understand what is in it for them as well as how they can help the company succeed. When developing goals with your employee, there are a variety of strategies out there to choose from. One of my favorites is the S.M.A.R.T. strategy.
S – Specific
Make the goal specific. After all, your employee needs to clearly understand what performance standards are expected. A few questions you can ask to add detail to a goal are ‘Who/What is involved?’, ‘What do I want to accomplish?’, and ‘What is the purpose or benefit of accomplishing this goal?’.
M – Measurable
Without established metrics, it will be challenging to hold the employee accountable not to mention stay on track for success. Remember to set checkpoints throughout the year to assess his progress (this is where that continuous feedback comes into play!). You may find it helpful to set smaller sub-goals leading to the larger goal, which can help keep him moving forward in a timely fashion.
A – Achievable
Simply put – the goal must be achievable. Don’t set the bar so high that it is next to impossible to achieve. An unachievable goal will set your employee up to fail as well as lower her motivation and job satisfaction. To make sure a goal is achievable, be sure to assess her ability, skill and capacity for success for the goal. Be sure to identify any potential constraints and discuss how those will be overcome. Likewise, make sure she has the resources available she needs for success.
R – Relevant
A goal must represent an objective that the employee is truly willing AND able to work toward. He must believe he can accomplish the goal. A few questions you could ask your employee to gain their buy-in would be ‘How does this goal align with your career objectives?’, ‘Have you been able to achieve a similar goal in the past?’ and ‘What conditions and resources are necessary for you to accomplish this goal?’.
T – Time-frame
A goal needs a start and end date. Without an agreed upon time-frame, there is no sense of urgency and no target to work toward. Just remember to make the time-frame for completion realistic.
Setting goals for the upcoming year can be an exciting opportunity for you and your employee to achieve success together. Remember to have a dialog and gain their insight (don’t do all of the talking!). Make goal setting a partnership. When an employee helps craft their path for success, they are motivated to put forth the effort and attention needed. Having you as their advocate for success will go a long way.