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Goal Setting – Why it doesn't have to be the bane of our existence

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “To reach a port, we must sail—sail, not tie at anchor—sail, not drift.”

The new year often inspires people to create an opportunity to reset themselves for the year and prepare new goals to set them on a course towards success. Accomplishing these goals will allow you to support your organization’s priorities, values, and your own professional development. As we near the end of 2022, reflect on goals you had set for the past year and strive to expand on and improve upon these in the upcoming year.

Setting great goals is the shortest, surest path to higher individual, team, and organizational performance. Doing it well requires both employees and leaders believing that it truly matters and modeling your commitment.

Goal setting prepares you for current and future success. When you grow, you are enhancing your value proposition by staying relevant for what you want to do next and what organizations need in a fast paced, changing environment.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when establishing effective employee goals:

Get Aligned:

  • Employee and manager should have a collaborative discussion first to align on goals. Goals should combine what is of interest to the employee with what is important to the organization, unit and/or work group.

  • Then, create a draft, review, and finalize the plan

  • Remember: performance goals are not development goals – those are separate

Get Prioritized and Agile:

  • Prioritize your performance goals by which are most valuable and will have the highest impact

  • Set a limit of 1-4 “active” goals

  • Create a defined period in which to meet those goals; deadlines have a way of focusing the mind and help create a sense of urgency and momentum.

  • Remember: not every goal needs to have an end date 12/31. Agile goals are more aligned to how we work today!

Get Individualized:

  • As a people manager, set goals specific to each of your employees

  • A cascaded or team goal, if needed, should be modified to fit the individual performance expectations

  • Remember: ensure goals are achievable

Get Simple:

  • Weighting goals can create complexity and confusion and should be optional – simple is most effective here

  • Ask yourself if your goals cover these areas: (1) what will be done, (2) by when and how, (3) resulting in what. Goals without all 3 pieces are not great goals.

  • Don’t scale performance goals (if I do this it’s a 1, or 2, etc.)

Get Quality:

  • Update, close or add new goals as needed during the year

  • Manager can audit goals for quality (optional best practice)

  • Managers can conduct goal calibration for like roles, responsibilities, and levels (optional best practice)

The goal setting process doesn’t have to be a demoralizing time of year. When done properly, setting goals can improve commitment and help clarify an employee’s role and purpose – the biggest drivers of organizational health. Keeping those ideas in mind as you set goals for the year can turn the process into a positive moment where employees feel empowered to learn and grow within your organization.


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