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Professional goals should give you something to work towards and look forward to. They provide a sense of purpose, ownership, and pride when they're...
Why do employee goals fall flat? Many people leaders find themselves questioning why hours are spent creating professional goals only to be forgotten or abandoned within months or even weeks.
If you’re one of those leaders whose employee goals never seem to achieve their intended purpose, then you may be surprised to find out it may actually have a great deal to do with you. Yes, that’s right. Research indicates that the reason goals for an employee fall flat may largely be due to the fact that managers, supervisors, and leaders are not actively involved in the employee goal-setting process when they should be.
In the following article, we’ll dive into the research that has been conducted regarding employee goals so you can refine your approach to professional goal setting.
Employee goals have a positive impact on the individual, the leader, and the greater organization. In fact, here is what the research has to say about the benefits of creating goals for employees.
While the benefits of effective employee goal-setting are clear, research conducted by Gallup indicates that many people leaders are not as involved in the process as they should be. More specifically, just 30% of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in goal setting, and even fewer (19%) strongly agree that they talked to their manager about steps to reach their goals. Moreover, less than one-half (40%) of employees surveyed strongly agree that their manager holds them accountable for their performance goals. If they did, employees would be up to 2.5 times more likely to be engaged in their work.
In light of the research, you may choose to refine your approach to professional goal setting with employees the next time an opportunity arises by considering the following:
One of the most powerful ways to lead people is to lead by example. This means you simply show them what you want them to do by doing it yourself. In other words, you don’t say one thing and do another. For example, regarding goal setting, leading by example starts with making your team members aware of your goals, walking them through how you selected your goals and demonstrating your commitment to achieving them through your actions. When you do so, your employees will be more likely to emulate that behavior when setting their own goals.
According to a study by Gartner, 40% of employees feel that their current roles are evolving rapidly and that they need to learn new skills and new ways of working with people to support changing business priorities. However, they point out that despite this, employee goal setting continues to be an activity done yearly.
As any people leader today knows, things can change drastically in a month, let alone an entire year. Therefore, if you want your employee goals to succeed, you may need to tweak the current goal-setting process you have in place to keep up with the current pace of change. For some teams, this may mean setting goals regularly and then using a one-on-one meeting quarterly to discuss their progress and update the goals they have set accordingly.
Formulating goals is never an effortless endeavor, especially if you don’t have the support or guidance of your leader. However, as a people leader, you can make the experience that much easier by collaborating with your employee to create their goals and action plan, as well as the implementation and measurement of them.
You may even consider taking a step further by involving your entire team. According to Gartner's 2019 Performance Management Benchmarking Survey, 82% of employees work closely with their colleagues, and 73% regularly check in or work with other colleagues. Yet, 3% of organizations involve peers in the goal-setting process, and only 20% involve teams. If you take the goal-setting experience to this level, you may find your team displays a greater sense of shared accountability towards each other's goals and are more willing to collaborate to make them happen.
To help you do exactly that, we created a Goal Setting Workbook that you can work through with your employees.
For employee goals to be optimally effective, leaders must play an active role. In doing so, you will need the skills to hold employees accountable, speak with clarity, set expectations, deliver feedback, and provide coaching when difficult performance-related conversations occur. If you do not feel prepared to do so, you may look to a leadership development program such as Leadership Fundamentals or Advanced Leadership Development to not only build your competence but your confidence as well.
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Jack Welch once said, “Set stretch goals. Don’t settle for mediocrity. The key to stretch goals is to reach for more than you think is possible....