— 7 min read

Setting employee goals is a critical prerequisite for their work evaluation process. You can't manage what you don't measure. It's no surprise that unrealistic and vague goals are one of the biggest frustrations for employees. This tends to kill motivation and productivity.

Setting employee goals is definitely an art form on its own. And as a coach or a team leader, you need to master this kind of art form. You need to guide the goal-setting process but also be able to set individual goals that satisfy different expectations. Like Elbert Hubbert has said:

"Many people fail, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal."

You can also learn a lot about setting goals from everyday leisure activities like playing Candy Crush.

how to set employee goals

According to a survey conducted among small business owners, 80% have failed to track their business goals for work evaluation. Not surprisingly, 77% of those who failed to set and track goals also failed to achieve their company's vision. It's apparent that without setting clear goals and keeping a track record, you set yourself up for failure.

How to set employee goals?

Set goals now

At the beginning of the year, there's always an overwhelming amount of information about goal-setting. It's a known fact that people tend to set and pursue their goals after a birthday or the first of the month. Although it's nice to start a new year fresh with new goals, it shouldn't be the case. While you might want to wait until the perfect time has come, in reality, the best time for goal setting is now.

Goal setting is an uncomfortable process. It demands you to predict the unforeseen, challenges you and your team, and makes you ditch the all too familiar comfort zone, which no one really likes stepping out of. Nevertheless, it won't get any easier in the future. That's why it's crucial to start setting and tracking goals with your team and employees now.

Write them down

If your goals are not written down, it's just a wish.  People have about 35 thoughts in a minute. If the goals are only in your mind, they are invariably vague and uncertain in many ways. Help employees write down and set their goals. This will inherently increase the commitment level. Putting things on paper or into an OKR system, will clarify your expectations and provoke the whole team to take the next necessary step. We also have a long in-depth manual that guides you through the process of turning objectives into results with less frantic effort, check it out here – Turning Objectives into Results.

Make them public

Writing down their goals is not enough. It's best if employees' goals are public so that everyone in the team can view them. In addition to keeping everyone in the loop, this will pressure people to plan accordingly. In Weekdone, we have a special feature for setting and communicating goals. It's the famous OKRs, Objectives and Key Results system. It helps you connect different level objectives to measurable results, making people move together in the right direction.

Make goals smart

Setting specific, challenging, obtainable goals enhance your team performance. Not a big surprise there. Yet, how often do you really think about setting SMART objectives? Reflecting your past experience, have you always set goals that are:

  • Specific – well-defined and focused;
  • Measurable – include a number;
  • Attainable – ambitious but reachable;
  • Relevant – in compliance with the external market trends;
  • Time-bound – with a certain deadline.

If not you may need to change how you set your own goals along with how you set employee goals.

Align employee goals with team and organization goals

It's much easier to achieve success when different level objectives are all aligned. Spend enough time to communicate the company's mission, vision and goals to everyone. Make sure people understand how they contribute to the company's success. It is an important step in improving teamwork in the workplace and will make it easier to link personal, team, and company objectives altogether.

Let employees step out of the comfort zone

As mentioned before, having specific difficult goals lead to higher performance. Furthermore, setting challenging, yet attainable goals, separate average employees from the best. But make sure these goals are attainable. When they are beyond reach, they'll act as a de-motivator. Find a balance between these two extremes.

Clarify the next step

Having set proper goals is a big step towards realizing the future vision. Nonetheless, it's only the first step. Therefore, divide the goals into daily, weekly and monthly tasks and focus your plans on what's important. After all, not knowing which work is the priority is considered to be one of the biggest employee time wasters. That's why in Weekdone we have integrated the Objectives and Key Results methodology with weekly reports. This way, the manager gets a clear overview of how each team member is working towards the goals on a regular basis. You get quick feedback from employees on their progress and can improve the guidance you give your people.

If you aren't using Weekdone employee progress reporting software, give it a try. We offer a free trial so there's nothing to lose.