Why Do Employees Need Goals?

5 Reason Why Your Employees Need Goals

In four short months, 2016 will be on its way out and we’ll be ringing in the new year. Along with the New Year’s celebration, we’ll be looking back at what we accomplished and what we didn’t. Most of us will cross off very few personal goals and just start all over with a new list of things we need to accomplish, like losing weight, going to the gym, meeting new friends, reading a bunch of books…and the list goes on and on.2016.png

Why do we do this? Why do we make a list, with great intentions of crossing everything off, and then never look at it again? Did we make a determination that our goals were no longer important; or did we just get too busy to revisit the list? Forbes tells us that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.  So, why does this happen?
“We say if you can’t measure it, it’s not a very good resolution because vague goals beget vague resolutions,” says John Norcross of the University of Scranton. Many people start with setting goals that are unachievable because they are so all-encompassing instead of succinct and reasonable. The goal itself becomes an overwhelming thought and in time it’s just too painful to revisit.
So, what does this have to do with setting goals at work? Well, everything.
The 5 Reasons Employees Need Goals Are:  

  1. To be part of something that is bigger than me:
    When employees are assigned individual goals based on organizational key performance indicators, they have something to strive for, challenges that affect their personal and professional growth.  When assigning employee goals, they should be meaningful, specific, measurable and attainable. If your manager comes directly to you and says, “I want to assign this to you because I think you are the most competent person for the project,” that is a huge employee motivator. But, it can also be a huge de-motivator if resources, tools and knowledge gaps create obstacles to success.  So, include employees in the goal-setting process to get their feedback and buy-in.
  2. To understand what you expect of me:
    How many times has your manager sat down in your work area, vaguely explained a task that needed to get done, and then walked out with little discussion about the outcome expected?  It wasn’t a success, was it?
    Goals have to be very clearly verbalized and then written down. The better the description, the greater chance for success. Being specific will trigger the employee to start thinking about how they will accomplish the task, who they need on their team and the action items necessary to get it done. If the goal is important, give the employee all the details: why, when and how. As John Norcross stated, “Vague goals beget vague results.”
  3. To feel the sense of accomplishment, to be Empowered
    If you have ever accomplished something big in your life, remember the euphoria you felt? And, did you know that the exhilaration you experienced was actually contagious?  
    When employees accomplish goals that have an affect on the company’s bottom-line; shout it from the mountain top! Let everyone hear it. Employees who may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel can see it brightly when they know about it. Empowerment is a funny thing. Just by sharing information, wins and even loses, employees feel a bond to the company. To ask employees to be part of something greater than themselves is one of the best retention tools a company can have. And, it doesn’t have to cost anything. Yes, communication is free.
  4. To have clear direction
    Imagine yourself driving in your car through a foreign city, with an address written in another language. All you know is that you need to be there by 10AM and to make things worse, you’re not even sure what time zone you’re in. Sounds like an old episode of Twilight Zone.  But this is often what happens in the workplace when employees do not have a clear direction, no roadmap.
    If employers follow the methodology of SMART Goals, their employees can avoid most of the anxiety associated with “lost employees.” So what exactly is a SMART goal? SMART Goals have been defined as goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results Focused and Time-bound.  They give direction to Objectives and Solutions to Outcomes.   
  5. To know my purpose
    Employees who know their purpose in the workplace are more engaged than employees who struggle with their work identity.  Ask yourself, what is my purpose at work? If you aren’t able to come up with an answer, then you are probably working for the wrong company.

    I read an interesting article from The Week, called The 4 keys to managing a happy, productive team. The article focuses on a book written by Teresa Amabile. (Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work). Her book focuses on a process of dealing with positive and negative events, one she has coined as ‘The Progress Principal.’“…..of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work.”

In conclusion, give your employees goals. Tie the goals to corporate initiatives that bring success to the company. Remember that a goal worth talking about is a goal worth writing about, so write it down. And, then communicate “clear and concise” objectives that need to be met; and provide the roadmap and resources to get there.  There are tools available to help organizations begin the process of goal setting.  If you do it right, you will see a boost in retention, a more empowered and motivated workforce, and creative ideas that you could never have had without involving everyone in the company. It’s never too late to get better at what you do. So, start today.
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