For goals to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees, they must be tied to larger organizational ambitions.
Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged.
No matter what level the employee is at, he should be able to articulate exactly how his efforts feed into the broader company strategy.
Make sure goals are attainable but challenging
Since employees are ultimately responsible for reaching their goals, they need to have a strong voice in setting them.
Ask your employee to draft goals that directly contribute to the organization’s mission. Once she’s suggested initial goals, discuss whether her targets are both realistic and challenging enough. Your team members are likely to resent you if you insist on goals that are too challenging to accomplish. At the same time, you don’t want to aim too low, either. If you are overly cautious, you will miss opportunities and settle for mediocrity.
When done well, stretch goals create a lot of energy and momentum in an organization. But, when done badly, they do not achieve the goal of motivating employees and helping them achieve better performance as they were designed to do. Even worse, poorly set goals can be destructive to employees’ morale and productivity, and to the organization’s performance overall.
Create a plan for success
Once a goal is set, ask your employee to explain how he plans to meet it. Have him break goals down into tasks and set interim objectives, especially if it’s a large or long-term project. Ask your employee: what are the appropriate milestones? What are possible risks and how do you plan to manage them?
Don’t wait for review time or the end of a project to check in. Review both long-term and short-term goals on a regular basis.
But do remember to celebrate milestones once they have been reached. Taking the time to celebrate is important because it acknowledges people’s hard work, boosts morale and keeps up the momentum. If you want something to grow, pour champagne on it.
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