Tips on Setting Employee Goals in 2021

The start of a new year is a great time to re-examine the process of employee goal-setting at your business.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we understand that employees want to perform at a high level (and stay at that high level). At the same time, your team members shouldn’t have to figure out on their own just how to attain this peak productivity. Additionally, effective goal setting generally leads to increased employee engagement, which results in better employee retention, which is important for virtually every business.goals2021

We’re all familiar with the value of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based). But our challenging times call for additional ways to set goals and help employees to achieve them.

Here are a few tips we found worth keeping in mind when looking to implement employee goals for a new year:

Recognize the unique conditions in 2021.

Many businesses within the hardwood lumber industry, like businesses everywhere else, have had to adapt to ever-changing conditions during the global pandemic. The most effective mind-set, says the accounting firm Wipfli, is understanding that every path forward “must be agile enough to respond to further uncertainty, whether it comes in the form of a potential return to stay-at-home orders or another economic downturn.”

As a result, setting a series of short-term goals (say, 30, 60 and 90 days) might be preferable to more audacious, long-range objectives. It can mean more closely managing how employees achieve those goals. Understand that some circumstances beyond our control will likely influence the course of business for many months to come.

Help employees set goals that align with the big picture.

Employees may not always grasp the importance of a particular goal or set of goals needed to boost productivity. It’s up to you, as a business owner, leader or manager, to help them see the big picture.

Why? Because when “an employee understands how achieving a performance goal impacts the bottom-line or the progress of their career, they will be more invested in achieving it,” notes LinkHCM. Tying a goal to “the deeper reason behind it can help employees stay focused in the face of challenge or distractions.”

Track progress towards stated goals. 

It’s often helpful to track progress on employee goals through weekly or monthly goal reviews. Pausing to assess how well an employee is doing boosts awareness of how much has been achieved thus far, and what still must be done. Establish milestones you and your team can meet, at pre-assigned deadlines, in order to keep momentum going strong.

Recognize and reward employees when they reach their goals. 

It’s important to display for the entire organization that attaining set goals is celebrated among the team. The key is being consistent about doing so. As we have noted before, “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.”

The start of a new year is a great time to remind your team members that their contributions are more urgently needed than ever before. No matter your affiliation within the hardwood lumber industry, whether you are a sawmill, a hardwood distributor, a manufacturer, a wholesaler etc., achieving high employee performance is crucial to the long term success of your business.

Setting goals—and helping employees achieve them—is a key factor in keeping your business strong for the challenges ahead. What methods have you found effective in setting and meeting goals? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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