How to Set Goals for Employees

“I would really like to set goals for my employees but I don’t know how to create the process.”

Effective goal-setting is a complex yet logical process. The following steps will help you create a simple goal-setting plan for each of your employees.

  • Identify the long-term goals — These are typically goals you’d like them to achieve over the next year. It can be learning new things or improving productivity, efficiency, or accuracy. Include metrics with goals whenever possible so you can measure success or improvement, such as increasing productivity by 5%.
  • Break down the long-term goals into short-term goals — Think about what they could do each month or quarter to ensure success in each long-term goal. Help them understand how to take baby steps toward long-term goals by asking them to make a list of what they think they need to achieve these goals. Discuss this with them to make sure they don’t need something more from you to be successful.
  • Recognize obstacles — Rarely do things move along without disruption. Make sure the goals and goal planning include some thought about what might prevent them from achieving the goals. What obstacles might get in the way of their job, the department, or the business?
  • Set deadlines — Every goal needs a deadline and a detailed explanation of what is expected by that date. Deadlines help both of you know which short-term goals should be completed by a specific date. Failure to meet deadlines requires you to review the reason to make sure the next deadline won’t be missed.
  • Schedule follow-ups — You are responsible for ensuring your employees are meeting deadlines and goals. Please make sure to mark your own calendar with the deadlines and plan to meet with the employee to discuss the status of every goal and talk about how the process is working in general.
  • Modify as needed — While it’s great to have long-term and short-term goals, some companies are influenced by things out of their control. You need to be ready to adjust the goals while not losing sight of what you are trying to achieve with the employee.

Once you begin a goal-setting process, it’s important you keep up your end of it. This means you are checking on the status when deadlines are due, providing anything the employee needs, and discussing any problems with the employee. The moment you find you don’t have the time or interest to follow up, you’ll find the employee also loses interest. Then you both lose.

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