Don't Drop this Ball on December 31

Don’t Drop This Ball on Dec 31

DEC 11, 2017

Don’t Drop This Ball on December 31

The beginning of the year is just weeks away, which means many of us are reflecting on 2017, and beginning to visualize 2018. While you may not be a New Year’s resolutioner, now is the ideal time to evaluate both personal and professional goals and objectives. At Inspire, we are reviewing our year in detail as well, including the progress we helped clients make in their performance management programs. It is crucial that organizations continuously evaluate and improve their performance management practice because employees rank the relevance of their role in a company as a top motivator. I’ve summarized 5 key takeaways that can help your organization use goal setting and performance management to increase productivity and employee engagement in 2018.

1.Set goals in stages.

There was a time that leaders launched the annual goal-setting process in February.  Back then, employees would simply copy their goals from last year with some minor adjustments, and they’d be approved by April.  Today, companies need to move at the speed of sound.  We recommend that firms encourage teams and employees to set immediate, short-term and long-term goals as close to Jan 1 as possible. Setting goals in stages:

  • Increases manageability, as employees can better visualize the immediate steps to reach intermediate milestones, to ultimately accomplish the long-term goals.
  • Encourages employees to take on high-impact challenges that may not require a full year to accomplish.

GE eliminated its annual review process in 2015 to allow for shorter-term priorities instead of annual goals. This coincides with their innovative environment, and push to get products to market in a timely manner.

2. Flexibility rules.

Goals, and the ability to update goals, must be fluid. Innovation moves quickly, and future needs could change in an instant. A goal could bloom, grow exponentially, or wilt in a year’s time.  Therefore, the inability to modify goals more often than once a year could negatively impact performance. Employees should also have the ability, and be encouraged to, update their progress on a goal (at least) quarterly. This removes the pressure of having to recall it all at year-end, and also promotes informal feedback from management. Each quarter Stride dedicates a full day to no-holds-barred employee discussions and has no promotion period, so that promotions can be granted as earned.

3. Get SMART with goals.

Follow the SMART framework when developing and evaluating goals; this ensures they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. As an example, if the company is rolling out a new tool that impacts your workflow over the next 3 months, a SMART goal would be: Become well-versed in the new office scheduling tool before implementation in April, so that I can be a resource to co-workers who are not as familiar with it.

  • This goal is specific in what it’s set to accomplish and is easy to understand.
  • The success of the goal can be measured in an employee’s ability to be a resource to others with what they have learned.
  • It is achievable and provides a challenge that will push for growth without being impossible.
  • It’s relevant to the employee, the team, and the overall organization.
  • Lastly, the goal is timely since the employee would be committing to learning the new tool prior to implementation.

Managers can add value to goals by confirming the expectation of the employee, and ensuring that they have access to the necessary resources to meet their goals. Expectations should be clear and communicated in a simple manner (Check out my previous blog post to learn more about setting clear expectations with employees). Theodore Pappas & Associates demonstrates its commitment to employees meeting and exceeding goals through its high rate of internal promotions. It’s not uncommon for highly motivated team members to be promoted to management in their first year.

4. Find your fit.

Have open, candid discussions about the company-wide and team-specific goals, and help employees understand how their individual contributions help the overall organization meet and exceed goals. If employees understand how they align with the company’s strategic vision, they can more clearly structure their individual goals to create more impact. If you find that employees are unclear about their role in the company’s success, this is a great opportunity for both employees and leaders. Use this as an exercise to differentiate between goals and tasks, as well as to re-evaluate the team and company strategic goals and how they are being communicated. At MASS Communications, #5 on Crain’s 2017 Best Places to Work list, owners take each employee to lunch at least once per quarter to learn more about their needs and concerns and answer any questions employees have about the company. Unified, also on Crain’s 2017 Best Places to Work list, hosts regular town halls to allow for extended Q&A sessions between employees and top leadership.

5. Encourage your employees to set personal goals.

Personal goals are just as important as professional goals and serve dual purposes.

  • It reminds employees that you consider their personal aspirations as significant as their professional objectives.
  • Encouraging employees to bring themselves to work also improves their overall personal development, which increases employee satisfaction.

Staff at Salesforce are encouraged to carve out time to volunteer. Each year, employees are given seven days of paid time off for volunteering, and the 100 employees with the most volunteer hours at the end of the year receive $10,000 to donate to their favorite nonprofit. Want to encourage your team to make their health a priority? Consider presenting the idea of your office offering a 30-min yoga class twice per week to increase focus and encourage healthy choices. Allison & Partners’ employees are encouraged to spend part of each Wednesday exercising. They can choose to take a walk, play in a team sport, or sign up for a spin class at the office. Committed to focusing on better work-life balance for your team?

Treat your employees to a Task Rabbit, or other services to tackle their growing to-do list. Create goals to increase efficiencies and productivity, while also reducing the need for overtime.

Before the ball drops, we encourage you to take some time to reflect on your team’s accomplishments and opportunities, and how you can move the needle next year. If you have questions about how you can improve your organization’s goal setting practices, Inspire Human Resources can help. Do not hesitate to reach out at (917) 612-8571 or Wishing you an inspiring New Year!