Hacks – Goals and Alignment
1. Set achievable goals for you and your team.
Set your employees up for success by setting challenging, yet achievable goals for them. In order for a team goal to succeed, it should be accepted and recognized as important by all members of the team. Be sure to revisit progress on the goal in order to keep the deadline on track.
2. Check in on your individual and team goals on a regular basis, and be open to tweaking them so they are both realistic and motivating for your team.
Goals should evolve over time, so don’t be afraid to re-calibrate your team goals as time passes in order to keep them relevant.
3. Use SMART Goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
Good managers set goals for their employees, but great managers set SMART goals. SMART goals will provide managers with a framework for evaluating performance, which can help eliminate bias in reviews.
4. Be specific with your questions to avoid vague responses.
“Asking people ‘so what would you like to be in the future’ or ‘what would you like to learn,’ most people respond just as vaguely: ‘I want to work on challenging projects’ or ‘I want to be promoted.’ Instead, ask ‘What would do you want on your resume in six months? One, they will have to actually think about how they want to describe their accomplishments. Two, this will translate into actual projects and skill sets, allowing for a great conversation mapping it to real projects.’”
5. Give direct reports visibility into your goals.
This goes back to establishing employee trust. By giving employees insight into your goals, they will feel included in the goals of the organization and feel more connected to the mission.
6. Align employee tasks and projects with team and company goals.
Goal-setting is great, but without alignment to a company’s overall goals, your goals can lose sight and relevance. There will always be one-off tasks for employees, but make sure that the bulk of their work and assigned tasks are aligned overall.
7. Ask your employees what they’re willing to commit to.
Figuring out what your employees are willing to commit to will help you determine what projects will be the best fit for them. Employees will not be engaged if they are not passionate and willing to commit to something, so being forward with them about it will help both of you.
8. Set up automatic labels from emails when there are actionable events.
Goal emails are usually a good trigger that a conversation should occur. I make sure those emails have a bright label and bubble up to the top of my inbox.
9. Convert qualitative goals into milestones.
For example, if an employee wants the goal of “better communication,” I would convert that into two milestones. One might be, “Participate in a post-mortem to get comfortable speaking in a group setting.” A follow-up would be, “Lead a presentation to demonstrate communication skills.” This lets us prepare for the big events together, and clarifies expectations for both parties.