Setting goals for your employees at work can mean any number of things. It can be about addressing an employee's individual goals and needs as a form of mentoring, or can refer to performance targets and even company/ team goals.
In this instance, we're addressing goal setting as a form of career mentoring, which in turn creates increased employee retention. This step-by-step guide will show you how to make the process work for you and your employees.
Choose goals and needs that are important to your employee
- The more important the goal is to them, the more likely they are to reach that goal.
- For example: goals that are extrinsic (‘you must do this’) or set because someone ‘thinks they should’ are far less likely to be reached than goals that are set because of intrinsic reasons (‘I really want to’).
- Check how important the goals you’ve set are by asking, ‘why is this important to you?’
Make goals SMART
Once you’ve identified the goal, the next step is to write it down.
We write goals down using the SMART principle. This turns fuzzy goals into something specific, measurable, authentic, realistic and time-framed.
For example: get your employee to identify the following:
- Specific – make the goal specific, capture exactly what it is they will be working towards.
- Measurable – identify how you will measure the goal and its attainment.
- Authentic – make sure the goal is motivating and authentic for them.
- Realistic – ensure the goal that you’ve set is realistic to achieve. Goals should be stretching, not straining.
- Timely – set a date for when they need to complete the goal.
Assess motivation level and revisit the goal
Once you've written down the goals as SMART, revisit how motivating the goal is to your employee now. A good way of doing this is asking ‘on a scale of 0 to 5, how motivated are you to achieve this goal?’ And ‘what would be the most motivating goal you could set?’ Then make changes to the SMART goal as necessary.
Many new employees have never set goals before, so this goal-setting exercise can be daunting. Make sure that you frame the whole exercise as an opportunity for them to improve themselves and their working life. You can do this by:
- Being positive in your delivery
- Being open and encouraging
- Supporting any ideas that the employee comes up with
- Making sure the goal is achievable
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