Getting Employees to Set Personal Goals

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Employee accountability and empowerment are all the rage in human resources circles today. And they are good ideas. Yet how does one really get employees to set personal work goals?

Here are some tips to help your employees set personal goals:

Make suretheĀ  goals your employees set are obtainable, can be measured and challenge the employee. Set a timetable for accomplishing the goal — deadlines focus the mind beautifully.

Understand that there will be some employees who balk at setting a challenging-but-doable goal. They prefer an easy goal for several reasons: they feel they don’t have what it takes to reach a challenging goal, they prefer the “easy win” of an all-too-easy goal, and so on. Employees who have never really been challenged in the workplace naturally could balk. Still, you should gently but firmly insist on setting goals that, while not easy-peasey, are doable. Your employees will grow and blossom when they find they can reach “hard” goals.

Other employees love a challenge and may set goals that will be very difficult to reach. Encourage them to rethink their goals and set those that are definitely obtainable.

Let your employees set their own goals. Employees are more likely to work hard to reach a goal when they have some say in the process. Obviously, their goals must be in alignment with your company’s or department’s goals, but you shouldn’t set arbitrary goals and leave it at that. Let your workers set the goals; you can review and tweak as needed.

Written goals have a much better chance of being met. Have your employees personally write their goals. This helps them visualize what it is they have pledged to accomplish and it helps them forge a strong personal commitment to actually meeting their goals.

The goals should be measurable. That is, you and your employee should know she’s met the goal by looking at quantifiable data. There’s no going with a “gut feeling” here. If it’s unclear what data could be used to tell if a goal has been met, ask the employee for her ideas. Setting concrete, measurable goals lets you both know when a goal has been reached and eliminates disputes as to whether a goals was reached or not.

Schedule regular meetings to discuss progress. Don’t micro-manage. Instead, look at these meetings as a chance for you to support your employees on their journey. You also can use these meetings to make sure employees aren’t focusing on just one goal at the expense of others.

Speaking of multiple goals, limit the number of goals employees must meet.

Once employees meet their goals, make sure they’re rewarded for it. Make this clear while employees are setting goals. Rewards can be a raise, more paid time off, a bonus, a new title, and so on. Work with employees to set the reward(s) for accomplishing goals.

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