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3 Secrets to More Effective Goal Setting

December 19, 2017
| ByMike Ryan

Companies expect a lot from their employees. They need them to outperform competitors and exceed lofty expectations. The problem is, employees don’t always understand (or completely buy-into) what all of that means.

It’s not that employees don’t know their company’s purpose, their work functions or their key performance indicators. They do. It’s that they struggle to understand what’s really important; how different business priorities impact them personally and what they should be doing about it on a daily basis. In fact, when it comes to goals, only half of employees say they fully understand what’s expected of them at any given time.

So what are the secrets to more effective goal setting and communications? Here are three. Follow each and you will help keep your employees informed, productive, engaged and motivated.

1/ Prioritize performance measures

Employees have a lot coming at them. But dealing with an avalanche of assignments without a clear sense for what’s critical can be more than overwhelming; it can lead to disastrous consequences. "Stacking Work Syndrome,” as the phenomenon is called, contributes to quality issues on the job, rising disengagement and eventually, chronic turnover.

The lack of clarity puts employees on an emotional edge. Managers should be helping here but many don’t. Only the best consistently help to set performance priorities.

Managers, armed with social recognition, can step in and do just that. They can set short-term goals and then reward and recognize employees who accomplish those tasks. With social recognition, good managers can take the guesswork out of what’s really important. More importantly, social recognition can help employees understand what’s in it for them as they stride to hit important performance hurdles.

2/ Personalize goals

Studies show that personalized performance goals go a long way to drive employee engagement and the exceptional performance that follows.

Why is that? Often, companies speak in platitudes. They offer business philosophies, mission statements and long-term plans. And while all of that serves some purpose on the corporate level, it can devolve into background noise for individual employees if it is not personalized.

The key to capturing an employee’s attention, and ultimately their performance, is to translate those goals into meaningful outcomes that they can understand and act upon.

Leading companies know that they need to translate their corporate goals into individual actions. And they know that front line managers equipped with effective recognition tools are the best conduits for doing so. They can set specific goals that define an employee’s part in making the business’s broader mission a reality.

3/ Model what’s called for

Prioritization and personalization provides clarity and context. Social recognition helps companies (and their managers) leverage the powerful combination of clear goals, tailored objectives, tangible steps and relevant results. That “specificity” improves outcomes.

Sixty nine percent of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. When employees know what’s expected of them, and know that they will be rewarded for hitting those goals, good things happen. Employees focus more on their work, they step in and help others, they own issues and they pursue goals with gusto.

As companies celebrate and publicize success within their organizations another benefit emerges; more and more employees begin to buy-into the company’s mission with conviction and purpose.

Employees respond well to peer-based examples. Often they value what their colleagues are doing more than what their senior management is saying. Creating internal "role models" through social recognition provides living, breathing and relatable examples of what good performance looks like.







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