Thursday, 21 January 2016 20:35

7 Tips for Setting Employee Goals

The start of a new year is a great time to re-examine the process of employee goal-setting at your business, especially for those of us in the hardwood lumber industry.

Obviously, every business wants employees to perform at a high level (and stay there), but it’s unreasonable to expect them to figure out on their own just how to attain this peak productivity. Also, effective goal setting generally leads to increased employee engagement, which in turn results in better retention, which we know is important to many of us.

So here are a few tips we find helpful when looking to implement employee goals for a new year:wally-red-oak-large

1. An employee’s goals must be aligned with company goals. One common complaint among frustrated employees is that they don’t see how what they do ties in with the company’s growth. As part of the goal-setting process, establish objectives that are clearly aligned with your overall growth strategy.

At the same time (and throughout the year), never miss a chance to communicate strategic business objectives; the more employees understand the company’s strategy, the more motivated they are to align their efforts accordingly.

2. Ask employees to suggest specific goals. Have you ever asked employees what they think their job objectives should be? Since, presumably, they know what they’re working on better than anyone else, inviting them to offer suggestions might result in specific goals you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

3. Make sure the goals are attainable. There’s no point in assigning objectives your employees can’t hope to reach. Rather than breeding frustration and a lack of motivation, create goals that hard-working employees can achieve, thus contributing both to your company’s growth and their individual satisfaction.

4. Use SMART goals. One common failing among performance programs is asking employees just to “be better” at their jobs. No one can succeed with such a vague directive. Instead, always set goals within the SMART framework:

  • Specific: What should be accomplished, within a set timeframe, and the benefits of achieving the goal.
  • Measurable: The goal can be determined using numerical or financial objectives.
  • Achievable: As noted above, goals should be attainable, acknowledging any constraints in time and/or resources.
  • Relevant: Again, key objectives should be closely tied to organizational strategies.
  • Time: Establish definite schedules for each goal.

5. Give employees the resources they need to succeed. Assigning goals and then leaving employees to “sink or swim” on their own won’t produce the desired results. Consider detailing key training the employee should pursue. Try identifying tools that need to be purchased to help them be successful. Or perhaps introduce them to other individuals who can help them achieve greater results.

6. Reward employees when they reach their goals. There are many ways to recognize and reward employees who meet their goals. The key is to do so consistently every time. Public acknowledgement of these achievements sends the message to your entire workforce that dedication and hard work are noticed, appreciated and rewarded – in itself a powerful motivating force for employees.

7. Set goals for yourself. Finally, give yourself one or two key strategic objectives and let employees know you’re part of the goal-setting process yourself.

No matter your affiliation to the hardwood lumber industry, whether you are a sawmill, a distributor, a manufacturer, a wholesaler or another type of business, achieving high employee performance is critical. Consider making goal-setting a key element in job responsibilities and watch your talented employees achieve more than anyone expected.

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber
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