Goal-setting can be a powerful tool used by companies to improve performance across all levels of the workforce. But how can it be implemented, and what specific benefits can businesses expect to see?
In this article, we’ll go into detail about the best practices around goal-setting and explain how they can revolutionise productivity within the workplace.
What is goal-setting?
Goal-setting refers to the practice of setting out objectives over a period of time that employees can work towards. These can be related to personal development, broader company goals, or achieving specific metrics within an individual role.
They can range from comprehensive ideas to hyper-focused aims. It should be simple to measure them by analysing certain metrics or outcomes almost all of the time. The goal-setting process should be employee-led, feature regular check-ins and be a mix of personal goals and team goals.
Smart goals should include key benchmarks, and it should be simple to track an employee’s progress on how close they are to achieving the goal. Different types of goals can be used to ensure that your action plan aligns with wider business priorities, but it should always be the case the employees feel personally bound and invested in their individual goals.
How does this differ from typical targets?
Company targets around profits and other similar metrics are often focused on long-term outcomes centred around the business’s overall success. Although they can be easy for everyone in the business to understand, sometimes it can be tricky for individual employees to understand the role they can play in order to achieve that company target.
This can lead employees to feel detached from the wider company goals and leave them unmotivated. They feel they are not working to better themselves or advance in their role but simply to increase company profits.
Focusing on smaller, more achievable goals for individual employees can alter this perception. They should be seen as individual employee performance goals, measurable in a specific time frame with key results to achieve. They can still be directly tied to other company targets, but they should be done so in a way that makes it clear what steps an employee needs to take in order to successfully play their role.
Why is goal-setting important?
Goal-setting can reshape how employees see themselves within a company. It can help you to establish a more streamlined approach that puts productivity, engagement, and motivation at its heart.
If you feel that your workforce is stagnating when it comes to productivity, or you think that morale has dipped, you may require a shake-up when it comes to setting objectives and goal-setting.
Not doing goal-setting at all, or doing it in a way that works poorly, can stop you from fully realising the true potential of your workforce and can seriously dent long-term profits, retention, and productivity targets.
What are the benefits of goal setting?
There are many benefits to goal-setting within a company. These can be for both an individual employee and can also improve your business as a whole. Below are some of the key areas where you’re likely to see positive movements after implementing a goal-setting strategy.
Following measurable goals linked to individual performance and milestones can improve your overall performance review process, allow you to have more adaptability as a business, and get high-performing team members who can cooperate with each other as co-workers to achieve shared development goals and collaboration goals.
One of the key ways in which goal-setting can benefit employees and the wider company is by increasing the motivation felt by each individual worker.
Without clear employee goals, staff can feel frustrated or confused as to why they’re dedicating time to certain tasks or projects. If they can’t see the bigger picture for themselves or the company, they’re likely to become less motivated and find it harder to put in 110%.
A study from Asana found that only 18% of UK employees said that their company was effective at setting and communicating company wide goals, even though the same study found that 56% of them measured their success against how much their work contributes to these overarching goals.
Employees need to know what they’re working towards, especially when it comes to completing BAU tasks in an efficient manner. Having goals to work towards fosters a sense of excitement and achievement for employees, and companies that fail to use goal-setting risk creating a workforce that is simply treading water and has no overall vision as to what they’re putting in the hours for.
When companies are setting out long-term projects that span months or even the space of a year, it can be easy for employees to feel a lack of urgency or may feel confused as to how to prioritise their time. This is why it can sometimes feel like the bulk of a big project gets done in the final stretch, even though plenty of time was allocated in order to achieve it.
Having clear goals and initiatives set out and scattered throughout a working calendar can give employees short sprints of super-efficient work. Employees can easily manage goal-related tasks and take them on one by one in bitesize chunks, improving overall efficiency.
A study from Perkbox found that 61% of UK employees were disengaged in their work, resulting in higher rates of absenteeism and lower rates of retention.
Assigning specific unique goals for each employee can help solve engagement issues at work. For example, a social media manager may feel that broad company objectives around driving traffic might make their achievements feel unrewarded or unremarkable. By not assigning a specific goal, employees can feel their day-to-day tasks don’t have a sense of achievement and are contributing to company goals (such as profits), the benefits of which may take longer to trickle down to them.
In this example, find out what’s important to your employee and add into supplement goals to the wider company objectives. Do they want to improve the quality of users? Are they interested in expanding which platforms they use? Do they want to break more records when it comes to post interaction?
Having a company-first approach can lead to missed opportunities for employee engagement. Tap into what excites them and use goal-setting to invigorate their day to make them enthusiastic about coming to work and achieving their goals.
Natural opportunities for learning
Goal-setting opens up plenty of opportunities for learning for employees as well. When setting out goals, tell your employees to be as ambitious as possible, and work back from there.
Doing this makes you likely to find skills gaps in an organic way that doesn’t feel like you’re pressuring them to take on many irrelevant courses. For example, suppose a marketing executive wants to find new demographics to target but needs extra knowledge in analytics software as an employer. In that case, you can provide the necessary training to achieve that goal.
Goal-setting creates a perfect relationship between employee skill gaps and professional development training. Having a clear idea of your staff’s ambitions, ideas, and desires can allow you to allocate training courses in an efficient manner that garners the most results.
Are you keen to set up goals, give your employees the skills they need to achieve them, and give your company a competitive advantage? Explore our Workforce Training Hub today and find out how we can help your employees and company reach new heights.