How to set better goals for your staff

When you bring a new recruit into your company, you can bet they will need help and guidance, for at least the first few weeks, while they find their feet. New starters may know their job description, but not have a full understanding of what's expected of them. This is an issue which needs addressing as early as possible – perhaps before you even take them on.

It is shocking how many companies neglect simple goal-setting for their employees and wonder why things aren’t working out. It is quite common to set vague or unachievable goals to newbies, who are too fresh out of the package to notice that they make no sense. Goals are one of the simplest ways to become an efficient company, but one of the most common ways in which businesses get it wrong.

Why are goals so important?

Goal-setting facilitates so many key factors to a smoothly-run business. Achievable goals laid out in an understandable way provides new starters with guidance and helps them to find their way around the company. Goals also help to motivate employees and ensure creative energy is flowing in the right direction.

As well as benefiting employees, goal-setting assists with the running of the company. Setting employees regularly updated and reviewed goals gives managers the chance to assess the company’s motives and ensure everybody is working towards them. It is also a big help when it comes to evaluating performance, and putting achievements into context. With a well-structured goal-setting scheme, companies can work in tandem with their employees to ensure progress is achieved, both on an individual basis and a company-wide basis. This in turn, establishes a company culture built around goal setting and achieving.

How to go about setting goals

If your company has experienced an especially successful period in its history, have a look back at what internal processes contributed, and look out for any ideas which struck you as effective. If you have never noticed such success in your own business, have a look around and pick up goal-setting techniques from others who have.

Remember that every person who works for you has their own future to worry about, not just that of the company. So ensure everybody has a well-thought-out career plan that you are aware of, and appreciate the directions your employees want to take. When it comes to setting goals, try to ensure that they fit individuals’ career plans and skill sets. Set out clear rewards and incentives for completion to motivate employees and encourage their professional growth.

As mentioned earlier, make sure you have laid out a plan and time frame by which success is measured. And don’t forget to set long- and short-term goals, and make the distinction between the two.

Project, professional development, performance

The 'Three Ps' help you make sure you are considering all the important things when setting goals. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), have been used since the ‘70s to concentrate employee efforts in a direction that is constructive both to their individual growth and to that of the company. They also strengthen the bond between employees and company mission/vision/culture.

Of course, this is all an awful lot to keep on top of, particularly if you have a vast team of staff. Using specialist HR systems and technologies helps you compile and assist you with your plans and targets, and ensure you stick to them. Such software has turned out some fantastic results, enabling companies to handle everything from onboarding to appraisals to goal-setting in a clear and interactive way.