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How do you Set Goals for your employees?

Two years ago I started an experiment.  I flipped around the goals for my employees.  Their personal development became their primary goal supported by business objects, instead of the other way around.  Why do I do this?  In my over 10 years as a manager, there was not one performance review where goals set in January were still 100% relevant at the end of the year.  Have you been in a year-end performance review where the discussion went something like this, “well that project was canceled, so we can’t really rate this one.  Oh and this goal changed, so it’s…”. 

We live in a fast-paced business environment that is changing constantly, and a year is a long time for goals to remain stable.  More importantly, younger employees are now asking – and rightly so – “what is in it for me?”  Performance goals can no longer be one-sided.  So how do we deal with this?  Option 1: you can constantly change goals as the business needs change – exhausting!  OR option 2: we can change the way we set goals.

So what does this look like?  The goal could be “Become a BI4.0 expert”.  This is a personal development goal, not a business objective.  Then the details of the goal are the business objectives (e.g., deliver project A and project B, or develop feature C).  This goal helps the employee and still gets the job done for the company.

Advantages of this approach:

1. The goal is employee-centric and binds the employee’s personal development with business success;

2. Increases employee commitment because it makes the goals directly pertinent to the employee; and

3. The primary purpose, makes the goal relevant for the whole year (and perhaps career).

Give it a try.  What’s the worst that could happen?  In the meantime, for the third year running, I will be flipping the goals for my employees.

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