When goals are clearly articulated and accepted, there are many advantages for individuals and organisations. But should goals be mutually agreed to, or do they need to come from on high?
Once your team member has all this in mind, ask them to create the plan for achieving the goal, establishing key milestones. These milestones are vital as they allow both you and your team member to know when they are on target and when they are off. This allows them to self-correct or seek input from you.
Mutually Agreed-to Goals
Ideally, you can establish goals within your team through a mutually agreeable method. Participation in the goal-setting process is a key aspect of goal acceptance. The key is mutual agreement, as goals need to align to departmental and organisational objectives. The OKR process, set out in John Doerr’s 2018 book Measure What Matters, provides a great framework for keeping goals aligned throughout the organisation, as well as keeping the organisation, departments and individuals focused on a few key objectives.
Regardless of the goal process you use, set parameters for each team member as they set their goals, either annually or for a specific project. Your expectation is that their goals should stretch them and create growth in their performance. Also, understand that if they are stretching themselves, then they probably won’t achieve all their goals. However, they should grow as a result of tackling each goal.
As for the process, ask them to set the goals first, then review together. Most team members will stretch themselves beyond what you think they are capable of handling. And since they set the target, they have more ownership. If these targets align with department and organisational needs, you are primed for achievement. However, there are two cautions.
In some cases, the goals may not be stretched enough. This occurs when the goals are the same as last year’s performance or very little stretch. Here you need to address that you see the goals as not stretched enough, that they will not create growth or challenge. Let them know that you see their capabilities as higher than what they have proposed, and work to a number that they see as a stretch but does not overwhelm them.
Some team members may be unrealistic in their targets, and you do need to work with them as well. This is a delicate conversation, as you do not want to communicate a lack of belief that they can produce. It’s just that they may be missing some of the other work activities that might get in the way or frustrate them in the process. If they are proposing three or four really stretch goals, suggest that they take one or two they are most passionate about. Then, keep them at this big stretch and reduce the other two to ensure balance of time and energy.
In both cases, the idea is the same. They create the plan for achieving the goal with key milestones established, as described above.
Now your team is aligned to clear and accepted goals that will stretch their individual growth. This alignment of goals will increase accountability, proactivity and innovation.