Setting Goals That Mean Something

Unless you’re in sales, goals can seem vague and unrealistic. Instead of a clear goal, like increase sales by 5 percent, vague goals take on the similarity of New Year’s resolutions — be a better team member, communicate more frequently, and focus on personal development. No wonder most resolutions get dropped before February.

Instead of generalizing goals, get really specific. Set both quantifiable and qualitative goals that mean something to employees.

Find the numbers. Most employees’ duties can be measured in a quantifiable way. Some metrics are easy (sales), and some are going to be a little trickier (customer satisfaction). For each goal, an employee has, make sure there’s a way to measure it and track it with numbers.

Check the numbers. Do some digging to make sure those metrics reflect what’s important to the business. For example, the number of leads can be important for a sales role, but converting those leads to sales is even more important.

Narrow qualitative goals. How people do their jobs is just as important as hitting milestones. Qualitative goals can naturally lead to vague descriptions, but you can help employees narrow those goals to specific desired outcomes. Instead of learn to write better, make the goal more specific, like learn three writing techniques used by top industry writers and apply them to company materials.

Ask your employees. Your employees probably have a good idea of measures that accurately reflect success on the job. Set goals together so that business gets taken care of and the employee is part of the goal-setting process.

Follow up. Progress reports are important to help people not just follow goals as well as meet them. Without specificity, it’s hard to know an employee’s progress or if something has impeded the completion of the goal. By following up on a regular basis, goals can be adjusted and obstacles can be removed. Both the employee and the business will be better for it.

Spend time on goal setting and make sure the goals you set are meaningful to the employee and to the business. Articulating what’s expected early on means people stay on track. And by keeping your employees involved, you’re likely to see high performance and great success.