HRM Five: A guide to goal-setting for employees

This week in HRM Five, we provide tips for how HR can be mindful in helping employees to set — and achieve — professional goals.
By: | April 1, 2018

HRM Five offers five important points on everything you wanted to know about HR practices today, but were too afraid to ask. Check out previous editions of HRM Five here.

Having a goal is the first step to achieving it, or so the saying goes.

Staffing firm Accountemps recently surveyed more than 1,000 US workers, and found that goal setting was important to on-the-job performance for the vast majority (93%). And while more than half of professionals (51%) discuss goal progress with their manager at least monthly, 11% never broach the topic.

“Professionals who don’t regularly talk about work objectives and performance with their supervisor are missing a prime opportunity to advance their career,” said Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps.

HR can guide manager to set goals, discuss progress, and anticipate potential obstacles with their subordinates. With help from Accountemps, here are five tips for how HR can be mindful in helping employees to set — and achieve — professional goals:

1. Retreat and refocus. 

Goal-setting is not something you can accomplish during a coffee break or in a busy office. Give employees the space to remove themselves from distractions, so that they can really think about what they want to achieve. This might mean organising a company off-site or retreat, even if just for an afternoon.

2. Get detailed.

Help managers and workers identify a framework and context for goal-setting — this could mean highlighting important dates for the business, or roping in senior leadership to take about the organisation’s wider goals.

Encourage employees to identify a small number of goals to tackle at once. Make sure that objectives are specific, quantifiable, realistic and timely, and consider using digital tools that will implement reminders to keep everyone on track.

3. Go long, then short.

Start with the destination and then work backward. First determine long-term goals, then establish a series of smaller tasks to help reach them.

4. Make sure managers are on board.

Employers want their employees to achieve professional success and job satisfaction. Line managers must be prepared to work with their people to set goals that align with department and company objectives, and be equipped to discuss career paths and next steps during regular meetings.

5. Put them in writing.

Have employees record their goals somewhere, so that it can be reviewed by them as well as their managers.

There are lots of software platforms that can guide employees through tihs process, and which will also provide regular, automated reminders to keep workers accountable. This will help them stay on track and ensure the work being done is aligned with the laid-out objectives.