Top 7 Goals you can set For your Employees

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Written by Alan Davidson
Alan Davidson is a Chartered Accountant, director and founder of Pentins Business Advisers, entrepreneur and author of the Amazon best-seller "Achieve Your Business Vision". With over 25 years of helping businesses succeed, Alan knows how to build a business with real value, while avoiding costly mistakes.
June 30, 2020

Setting goals for your employees has proved to be highly beneficial. It can drive your business forwards, and help you reach your business goals. Additionally, it has been proven that employees are more satisfied with their job when they have individual, manageable goals to work towards.

To help you decide which goals are appropriate for your employees, we have compiled a list of the top 7 types of goals for employees. Keep in mind that these goals should be assigned based on each individual employee’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as your business needs. We always suggest that you and your employee set these goals together, in a joint effort to move both your business and their careers forwards. This will increase the likelihood that they will be motivated to attempt to reach the defined goals.

Learn new technical skills

If your employee is confident in their current role, don’t hesitate to ask them to learn more skills and expand their competence. This could include attending seminars, taking courses, or obtaining new qualifications. When choosing which skills they should learn, we generally recommend finding areas where your business could use more knowledge, combined with areas that your employee has expressed an interest in.

You can also ask your employee to get familiar with a new trend, concept or technique within their field of expertise.

Work on their soft skills

You might have employees that excel at the technical side of their job, but lack certain soft skills. The good news is that soft skills can be learned and improved on.

Set specific goals for employees to improve their soft skills when dealing with their coworkers. This can include using less harsh language, avoiding confrontations, speaking up more during meetings or being less dismissive of others’ ideas.

You can also ask them to improve how they act around customers, like conducting more small talk, be more assuring, or come across as more confident.

Improve efficiency

Set goals for your employee to be more efficient. You might work with people who are great at what they do – but they happen to do the job very slowly.

Let your employee know that you expect them to speed things up, and give them goals they can realistically achieve. Be careful asking employees to compare the speed at which they work with their colleagues. Instead, set small goals that are realistic for that person. These goals can gradually increase over time, until the employee is working at an efficiency level you are both satisfied with.

Improve quality of work

It’s not just about the quantity of work done, it’s also about the quality. If your employee is not finishing the jobs with the results you are expecting, this can cause your business harm in the long run.

Give specific actions such as increasing the time they spend on each task, have them go over their work twice, or ask them to test and double check that the work is satisfactory. Exactly how you can achieve this will vary depending on what type of work they do.

Increase responsibility and independence

Employees can free up a lot of time from senior members of staff or the management team by taking responsibility for their own work. If your employee hesitates when completing their work, and shows signs of not wanting to make decisions which are expected of them, this should be addressed.

Improving their independence, and making them responsible for their own work, will often lower the work load of other members of staff. It will also allow you to gradually assign more significant tasks to the employee. Set goals that are suitable for the individual. These goals could include completing tasks with less involvement of others, presenting their work and ideas in front of their coworkers, or taking full creative responsibility for solving a problem.

Behaviour improvement goals

We often assume that our employees will behave according to company guidelines, however, if you have been an employer for a while, you will know that this is not always true. If an employee is showing inappropriate behaviour, this is something that could and should be addressed. Things like showing up to work on time, wearing appropriate attire, limiting personal phone usage, reducing sick days, following procedures correctly or reducing the amount of customer complaints could be suitable goals for these employees.

A common mistake employers do is to ignore behavioural issues, as they can be challenging to address, despite the fact that they often have a major impact on the business as a whole.

Monitoring and coaching

If your employee is doing well, you can ask them to monitor or coach their team members. You could ask them to teach their coworkers new techniques or skills, or to coach them on things like being more efficient, or improving the quality of their work.

Some people excel at teaching others, and find it highly rewarding. This would also allow the employee to showcase that they are suitable for a higher position within the business, and prepare them to join the management team if applicable.

How to get your employees to work towards these goals

There is no doubt that setting goals can be helpful for your business, but only if your employees actively work towards reaching their targets and completing their goals. We suggest using positive reinforcement.

Make sure that your employees are rewarded for all their hard work. This could be financial incentives like a raise or a bonus, a small gift, free lunch, drinks out with the team, finishing early on Fridays, a voucher from your store, or even a simple “thank you”.

Some businesses choose to award each individual person for their accomplishments, while others choose to award the team as a whole if they all reach their goals. You can even ask your employees which incentives they would find appropriate, or how they would like to be rewarded.

When you’re ready to start setting your goals, feel free to use our free SMART goal worksheet.

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