Everyone wants to have something to work towards. How boring would life be if we didn’t have goals or objectives we worked to meet? The same applies to work life. Almost no one gets excited going into work thinking, “I’d really like to accomplish nothing today”. Goals are a necessary part of work life to make an employee enjoy their job and feel like they are working to achieve something. Goals aren’t as easy as just saying I want my employees to do their best every day, or I want to make more money for the company this year. Goals need to be specialized to fit the organization and the individuals that make up that organization.
Goal setting begins with the company at large. The company needs a general organization-wide goal or goals to base more specific objectives upon. This is usually the company’s mission statement that says what the company’s reason for existing is. The company further needs a vision statement to say where the company wants to go and what they want to become in the future. This serves as the base for strategic planning and implementation of actions to reach the mission and vision of the organization. Just stating a mission statement and a company vision isn’t enough to be successful in forward progress. Companies have to have strategies and plans for how to make those ideals a reality. Organizations need to develop concrete methods to realize their goals at every level of the organization. Upper-managers or owners need company-wide goals to meet, and those subordinates need to make specialized goals for each department and each employee to put the overall objectives into action.
For a goal to be successful, it needs to have multiple components. Many managers go by the acronym of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and including Target dates). This is a great way to remember how to make a successful goal. With the first component, goals need to be specific. Simply saying do your best to get a lot of great sales is not going to be as motivating as increase your sales by 10% this year compared to last year. Giving a specific goal for an employee to work for will provide a more definite idea of what is expected and leave less room for ambiguity to interfere with optimal performance. Goals need to be measurable in order to track progress on goal accomplishment. It is best if goals are quantifiable, such as using percentages of increases or decreases in performance criteria like sales or number of units produced. If numerical records aren’t available, supervisors could use regular performance reviews to monitor progress, so long as those are conducted accurately and fairly. Goals need to be attainable. People enjoy challenges, but no one wants mission impossible at work every day. If a goal is ridiculously difficult, an employee is going to get burned out working on something intolerable or simply quit because they are expected to do way too much. On the other end of the spectrum, if goals are too easy then workers are going to care a lot less about their job. For example, if you ask a car salesman to sell one car a month, do you really think he or she is going to put forth much effort at all? Goals of moderate difficulty will be best for making employees engage with their work and feel challenged but not defeated. Goals should be results-oriented, in that they should make sense to achieve the overall company goals. Goals at all levels should have clear outcomes that are positively associated with the company mission or vision statement. Lastly, you can’t simply have goals to be achieved at some point. If you tell your employee to increase their sales by 10%, what does that mean to them? In the next month? The next year? Within the next five years? You need target dates to achieve the goals set for employees, work units, and the company at large. This allows a clear idea of what to work for and when it should be accomplished.
Goal setting is one of the best motivators in the workplace. It brings together employees for a common purpose and helps employees to feel fulfilled about their work. The most important thing is to design goals and plan strategies that complement the organization. Companies can’t set goals that are completely irrelevant or impossible to achieve. Goals for the company at large and the individuals need to fit. Goals should fit the employee they are designed for. Not everyone is going to achieve the exact same amount, and some individuals have special talents that can be maximized if identified. Get to know your employees and figure out how to optimize the unique skills and abilities of each worker and how to combine all of the distinctive employees and work units to make an overall effective and progressively accomplished organization.