3 best practices for goal setting

alent is the single biggest cost and differentiator when it comes to business success, and organizations don’t have the luxury of failure when it comes to employee performance. Leverage the following three best practices to ensure goal setting is aligned with the way work is done today and that employee goals are impactful and drive business outcomes.

1. Help managers provide context for goal setting

To help their teams set aligned goals, provide managers with information about business strategy and how it relates to employees’ diverse roles. Managers must then give direction that translates that information into specific tasks and actions. Providing information and direction together enables employees to see the link between their work and overall company strategy.

HR plays a critical role in helping managers understand business strategy and translate it to their teams. Getting manager contextualization right can have a big impact on employee performance. Organizations with managers who are most effective at contextualization can boost the percentage of high performers from 44% to 60%.

2. Make goal setting more collaborative

Given the increasingly collaborative nature of work, transform goal setting from a solo activity to a team activity. This requires several shifts. For one, have individuals share goals with their team and ensure that everyone understands how their goals relate — and that they are jointly accountable for achieving the results outlined in their business plan.

Also, implement team goal-calibration sessions, rather than just requesting peer feedback at the end of the year during the formal performance review process. This enables teams to discuss what they will need from each other and to calibrate expectations rather than performance.

3. Empower employees to update goals regularly

Build flexibility into the goal-setting process so employees can evolve their goals as their roles and the business changes. Have employees review their goals with their manager quarterly, at minimum, as well as at the start of the year. Help managers and employees identify triggers for adjusting goals, including changes in company or business-unit financial performance, staff turnover or technology advances.