Performance goals. Key performance indicators. Management by objectives. Regardless of what you call them, if your company is like most, January means you are in the midst of setting company and individual goals for 2018. And if you’re not, you should be. Goals provide employees with guidance and direction, they help facilitate planning, provide a means by which to evaluate performance, and can serve as a powerful engagement tool.

So, how do you turn goal setting from a tedious “have to do” to a positive engagement experience for your team?

It’s no secret that at Padilla, we believe it’s important to look at an employee’s age and career stage to really understand what motivates people. A newbie (3 years or less on the job) is looking for different things in their work experience than say, a sage (11+ years on the job). An effective manager will understand each employee’s life and career stage. It’s important to remember, however, that regardless of age and stage, there are more similarities than differences when it comes to engaging employees.

So, before you sit down to talk 2018 goals, remember:

  • Employees need to know the company’s vision, mission and goals. Before you talk about individual goals, communicate what the company as a whole, and your group/team, is trying to achieve.
  • Make sure every individual understands the role he/she plays in helping the company achieve its goals. Employees need to understand how what they do every day impacts the organization as a whole.
  • As a manager, seek to understand each employee’s personal drivers and professional interests. Treat each employee as an individual, not a number, and identify opportunities that draw on their strengths and make work meaningful to them.
  • Talk about growth opportunities and career aspirations. Goal setting should be a conversation – not a directive. Understand where the person sees him or herself one year from now, and five years from now. Work together to create a career plan, with milestones and clear expectations.
  • Set realistic, yet challenging goals. Employees want to be pushed, but not overwhelmed. Find the happy medium.

Lastly, make sure all goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. And, remember to check-in with your team members regularly to make sure they have the resources they need to achieve their goals. Having the right goals in place early in the year can drive both business outcomes and employee engagement. Make 2018 your best year yet!

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