Today we are talking about goals. Researchers study them, businesses are judged by them, and everyone sets them. They can be short term or long term, simple or complex, shared or private.
Not only do goals give us something to work towards, but our professional success is defined in part by whether or not we reach them. If executed properly, goal setting is an important way employees and managers come together to create meaningful metrics that can then be used to measure performance. After all, if you don’t have a target, where do you aim?
Feedback is Not the Enemy
Outside of performance, goals also serve various purposes that are equally as important.
Here are three by-products of setting and tracking goals that leave a lasting business impact.
There is a strong correlation between how connected we feel to our work and how we ultimately perform. Setting goals is an important way to make our work – and workplace experience – more meaningful.
- Individual goals can act as a compass for employees as they carry out their day-to-day activities. They are also a starting point for coaching conversations between managers and their direct reports.
- Team goals can strengthen the bond between co-workers, and give employees a chance to make a bigger impact outside of their area of expertise.
- Company goals unite the entire workforce around a shared objective. They can also be a big driver of the organizational culture.
We’ve all seen a positive team dynamic go downhill quickly when employees make assumptions about their co-workers. Friction can be caused by any number of issues – employees perceive there to be an unequal distribution of work. Someone is slacking off and getting away with it. There’s a questionable promotion on the team.
Setting goals that are transparent throughout the organization can circumvent these issues. When employees are aware of how everyone is contributing towards the company’s goals, it takes the guesswork out of the equation and provides a tangible reference from which to address issues. Goal transparency also prevents both duplicate work and gaps in work. There’s nothing more frustrating than to put a lot of time and effort into a project and find out that a co-worker is working on or has already done the same thing.
On an individual level, transparent goals help employees understand how they themselves stack up. Especially in the case of shared goals such as departmental or project team goals, knowing where everyone stands can encourage employees to work harder and ultimately raise the caliber of the team as a whole.
Goal data can be valuable for managers beyond the obvious performance conversation. In fact, goals provide a gold mine of data that can be used across the organization – from direct managers to HR leaders to top executives.
At the most basic level, organizations can uncover who is and isn’t setting goals, and how it’s impacting their performance. If an employee leaves an organization, his or her manager can use goal data to better determine what they might need in a replacement. They can also look at missed team goals to help determine which new roles they might want to hire for. HR leaders can look at team goal statistics to compare and contrast departments, or to pinpoint problem areas. Executives can review goal data in aggregate to get a sense of how the company is doing.
Goals can be so much more than a basis for an employee’s performance. Create a process where goals can be set, shared, and analyzed, and the business will put goals to use in new and valuable ways.