Employment Enterprises Blog

10 Tips for Effective Goal Setting

Posted by Sharlyn Lauby on Oct 13, 2016 12:17:27 PM

effective goal setting

I’ve always worked in organizations where this time of year was budget time. We spent hours in meetings talking about the goals we wanted to accomplish in the upcoming year (and how to fund those projects.)

The conversations we had about company goals eventually became department goals. Then of course, they became individual goals. While goals cascaded down the organization, it was still important for employees to feel connected and invested in the goals they needed to accomplish.

Even as a consultant today, I still create a budget and goals. The size of the company doesn’t matter. I find that I do my best work when I have goals. As I’m working on my 2017 goals, I thought it would be valuable to document the tips I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Set relevant goals that align with the organization. If you want goals to have impact, they need to align with the business. Ask yourself, “How does this goal help the company accomplish its strategy or mission?” It doesn’t have to always be a direct alignment, but it does need to connect.

  2. Get buy-in from management. Goals usually involve a change. That’s not a bad thing. It means the company is going from XX to YY as a result of accomplishing a goal. For goals to work, they need resources. That means management must support them.

  3. Document goals (on paper, in a journal, or online). I’ve found the way to stay focused on goals is to see them regularly. Goals should not be tucked away in a binder on a shelf. They can be tacked to a cubicle, written in a daily journal, or better yet, noted in a software solution.

  4. Phase goals in over time. There are short- and long-term goals. We don’t have to work on all of our goals at the same time. In fact, to be really successful, we probably shouldn’t work on all of our goals at the same time. Prioritize and be prepared to shift priorities when necessary.

  5. Regularly monitor progress on goals. A key element in setting goals is understanding what success looks like. This is why we document goals. So they can be evaluated against our measurement of success. It’s very easy to allow a shiny new trend to distract us. Monitoring keeps us focused.

  6. Modify goals as appropriate. Goals are sometimes made to be changed. It’s not a bad thing, but it is a fact of business today. Priorities may change so goals might change too. Be prepared to adjust the goal, the individual steps to achieve the goal, and/or the measurement of success.

  7. Abandon goals that no longer make sense. External factors could impact the need to accomplish certain goals. Remember Tip #1 – keep goals relevant. If the business changes or a competitor introduces a new product or service, it could mean a goal is no longer important.

  8. Ask for help. I believe this is different than buy-in. Even when you have buy-in, there might be times when you need the assistance of others. And that’s okay. You don’t always have to accomplish goals alone. Truth be told – most of us never do.

  9. Celebrate goal accomplishments. Accomplishing a goal is cause for celebration. It can be a short acknowledgement during performance reviews, one-on-one meetings, etc. Or a huge party after a major milestone is completed. Bottom-line: goal achievement is hard work. Recognize it.

  10. Learn from failures. This list has been all about accomplishing goals. You’ll have to decide if it’s okay to not accomplish a goal. But when those moments occur, use them as a learning opportunity. Find out why the goal wasn’t met and what can be done in the future so it doesn’t happen again.

Goal setting is an integral part of our success in business. We use goals to help employees gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform well. It’s employee performance that allows us to achieve our business goals.

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Sharlyn Lauby is the author of HR Bartender (www.hrbartender.com), a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When not tending bar, she is president of ITM Group, Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. She can be reached on Twitter at @HRBartender.

This article was reprinted with permission from SilkRoad (on Twitter at @SilkRoad), a leading provider of cloud-based HR solutions that enable customers to attract, develop, and retain the best talent possible.

Topics: Labor & Industrial Insights, Performance

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