Since we are fresh into the new year, it feels like a good time to discuss goal setting. Ideally, you and your employees should always be working toward accomplishing goals – this is how individuals (and the organization!) grow. Goals should be SMART in nature; that is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. In one way or another, all goals should link to the strategic plan/business strategy of your organization. Here’s an example of a SMART goal (and for the purpose of this example, let’s say that an organizational goal is employee engagement):

• I will schedule monthly 1 hour meetings with each of my 5 employees starting in February.

As you can see, the above goal meets each of the SMART criteria: the goal is measurable or quantifiable, it is attainable in the sense that it’s not overwhelming, it’s relevant to the organizational goal of increasing employee engagement, and it is timely, as the commitment to start these regular meetings is next month.

Employees may need to be provided with resources or professional development to obtain their goals. In fact, development needs should tie back to employee goals, which ensures that training dollars are being spent in a strategic way. An example of investing in training to meet a goal is as follows:

• Organizational goal: the company is committed to providing excellent customer service by treating clients in a courteous manner and by responding to inquiries in a timely fashion.
• Individual goal (which links to the organizational goal): return all customer phone calls and emails within 24 business hours.

In order to assist the employee in reaching this goal, taking a course in time management may be helpful. Investing in this training allows both the employee goal and organizational goal (at least in part) to be met.

Some goals may be shorter term (a month or two), while others may be somewhat longer (for example, 6 months or a year). For longer term goals, it’s important to review progress on a frequent basis to ensure that all is on track. As well, as priorities in the organization shift, it’s perfectly acceptable for goals to be modified. In any event, it’s key that your employees are involved in setting their own goals – with guidance from yourself – which will make them more engaged in the work that they do. While some employees will be content in their current role, development opportunities can be used for potential future roles in the organization for those that are looking to advance. Even if an employee has been in their present role for a significant period of time and they have no desire to change jobs in the organization, it is important that they are committed to and engaged in goal setting discussions. After all, it is unlikely that their role is unaffected by change and/or stays static!

Following the SMART goal template, along with regular follow-up discussions, will make setting and achieving goals a smoother process for both you and your employees. Good luck!

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