Employee Engagement Employee Recognition Employee Rewards

Managers, here is your fool-proof 7-step framework for employee goal setting

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Here’s some good news - employee goal setting doesn’t have to be just another time-consuming item on an endless list of managerial tasks.

In fact, if you approach it the right way, the goal-setting process can actually be incredibly rewarding for all parties concerned. That’s why it became a thing in the first place. 

To help you get back to that point of operations yay-ness, we are going to share our fool-proof 7-step framework for employee goal setting, so you can get cracking on helping your team members to thrive in their roles throughout 2021, and beyond. Here you go!

Check out our YouTube channel for awesome videos on everything from the science of employee recognition to creating an internal communications strategy for enhanced engagement.


1. Meet them where they are

While the aim of manager-assisted employee goal-setting will always be to bring an individual’s career growth in line with company objectives, it’s also important to meet your team members where they are. This means taking the time to see how they are doing, and where you can help in order to smooth the way for increased productivity and job satisfaction on their part. 

As such, it helps to touch base with the employee in question a while before your actual meeting regarding their goals. Send an email, or a link to a predetermined survey, so you can have their insights at your fingertips when you meet. It also goes without saying that it’s common courtesy to be prepared for these meetings, and to make sure that employees feel heard.  

2. Gather insights about job-specific challenges 

When it comes to employee goal-setting, it might be worth your while to reference data from 360-degree performance reviews. By looking at what each employee had to say for themselves, as well as the feedback provided by their peers and overseers, you’ll be able to surmise if there are any shortfalls that need to be addressed. 

Another strategy that can help you to develop a better understanding of the job-specific challenges each employee faces on a daily basis, is to survey others who share similar roles. With this data at your disposal, it can be easier to address certain pain points. E.g. “Others in similar roles to yours have stated that they feel overwhelmed by the new systems and could do with more training. What are your thoughts?” 

3. Be SMART about it 

Best practice dictates that all goals should be SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. 

Specific: Really get down to the nitty-gritty. Instead of saying 'I want to generate more sales', lead the employee to a point of specificity, e.g 'I want to generate more sales of our new catalogue'. 

Measurable: Decide how you will measure the success of their attempt to reach this goal. This needs to be something that will help them to stay on track and hold them accountable, e.g. 'I want to generate 30% more sales of our new catalogue, as measured according to our CRM system.'

Achievable: An achievable goal is one that an employee can realistically achieve, but will also stretch them to grow in their role. 

Relevant: To be relevant, a goal should be beneficial to the enterprise as a whole, and fit in with an employee's tasks and responsibilities. 

Time-based: Foster a sense of urgency by putting a timeline to the project. E.g. 'I want to generate 30% more sales of our new catalogue in the first quarter, as measured according to our CRM system.'

4. Be all about attainability

As mentioned in our previous point, it’s very important that the goal you help your employee to set is something that they can realistically achieve with the time, tools and skills they have at their disposal. After all, the process of setting and achieving goals is supposed to boost their confidence as well as their productivity, not the other way around.  

5. Keep things consistent for co-workers

The reason why it helps to generate employee-specific goals instead of selecting a blanket goal for the members of an entire department, for instance, is that it can lead to toxic levels of competition. While a little bit of friendly rivalry in the workplace is all good and well, it’s best to steer clear of a dog-eat-dog platform at all costs. 

Instead, keep things consistent by helping co-workers to set goals that require the same level of dedication and stretch. This way they can strive for excellence alongside each other, rather than trying to one up one another. 

6. Recognise and reward goals achieved 

When an employee reaches a goal, make a big old fuss about it. Recognising and rewarding their hard work is not only a good way to show them that you value all their effort, it also indicates to the rest of your team that hard work does not go unnoticed. 

READ MORE: The tried and tested employee recognition framework to boost motivation and performance

7. Support the players who lag behind

There will always be a certain number of employees who do not reach their goals, regardless of all the effort they put in. In cases like these, it helps to provide guidance and mentorship by means of ongoing support by a senior member of staff.  

Following these 7 guidelines will smooth the way for effective and rewarding employee goal setting every time. While we’ve got you, here is another article we think you’d enjoy >> The CEOs roadmap towards total organisational culture transformation

Keep an eye on the blog for more helpful managerial tips and tools in the future.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a gander at our YouTube channel. This is where we keep all our concise-yet-insightful video content that will help you to take your employee recognition and reward strategy to a brand-new level.


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