Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Developing the right goals, part of Performance Review Foundations.
The goal setting process is not a simple process of dictating arbitrary goals from boss to subordinate. It's a thoughtful process of balancing several needs to give every employee clear goals to motivate strong performance. Goals that work have to address several targets. Specifically, goals must be within the employee's ability, helpful in term of the employee's development and aspirations, able to assist the company in achieving its higher level goals, and capable of supporting the team's needs too.
Keep in mind. There are no perfect goals. So it's acceptable if a goal doesn't support every one of these targets. However, no goal can clearly oppose or harm any of those targets either. Let's start with the big picture. For many organizations that means cascading goals. At the executive level, goals are set for the organization for the year, based on on the strategic plan, and anything that was learned from the prior performance period. Every one of these goals is then shared with the leadership team one step lower in the organization.
Those leaders must establish performance goals for their areas that will allow the higher level goals to be achieved. This process is then continued. And the goals cascade lower and lower into the organization, all the way to the front lines, such that every level of goals supports and enables the achievement of goals at the next highest level. With a larger context in place, it's time to consider what one specific employee is capable of accomplishing. It's easy to get sidetracked thinking about what you need and what the team needs, but you always want to begin by thinking about what the person is capable of.
Based on your recent observations, and based on the last one or two performance evaluations, you'll quickly be able to understand the employee's current performance trend. Small changes up or down from that trend are a very safe place to begin thinking about new goals. Beyond their current ability you then must consider their developmental needs. For example, these might include areas for improvement, in terms of skills and knowledge, or needed changes inner personally. You might also identify opportunities to give them new or higher levels of responsibility.
This might include more of the same type of work, new work of similar responsibility, what you might think of as a lateral extension, or new duties at a higher level of authority, or a vertical increase in authority. In any case, don't forget to be sure to set these new standards with their baseline performance trend in mind. Next is a subtle but important distinction. After thinking about what you feel their developmental needs might be, go a step further and directly consider their aspirations.
Every employee is different. Some will be more than happy, sometimes too often, to tell you where they wish to be in a year, or in a few years. Other employees are more introverted and hesitate to proactively share their aspirations. You should have an informal go-to place where you keep notes about each of your direct reports. For the ones who proactively signal their aspirations, make a note. Don't make commitments unless you can, but make a note so you can be thoughtful later. For those who are less quick to speak up, it's your job to poke and prod just a little in conversation so you can learn about their aspirations.
Finally, don't forget to consider the team's needs. Sometimes being on a team means making sacrifices. For example, say you know one of your employees really well. You know their skills and abilities and you know their aspirations, but you also know what the team needs to get done and sometimes that means asking people to fill roles they would rather not film. Everyone has to do this at some point. It's what we call taking one for the team. And if you're positive and respectful about it, most employees will understand and comply.
As long as you don't ask them to stray from their preferred path for too long. Goal setting sounds simple at first blush, but there are several variables to consider. I want you to remember the ideas we just discussed. As long as you remember to consider the company's needs, the team's needs, and the employee's needs, you'll be creating goals that work.
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- Understanding the performance cycle
- Setting performance goals
- Collecting performance data and feedback
- Writing the review
- Discussing performance with an employee
- Using a performance improvement plan (PIP)<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.