How To Personalise Performance Goals and Objectives for Staff Development

When leading a team it is important for managers and business owners to get the best from their staff but it isn’t always the easiest thing to achieve. Different people are motivated by different things, some like to focus on their own careers while others are in it for the good of the team.

Ideally, staff would fall somewhere between the two but taking the time to understand what motivates your employees, and what collectively can be done as a team too, can help the push for progress.

Standing still is not an option in the corporate world; if you are ahead of your competition it allows them to catch you up and if you aren’t then you will be left further and further behind. But by personalising performance goals and objectives, business leaders can promote staff development and productivity, ultimately leading to improved market results.

What are personalised performance goals and objectives?

Personalised performance goals and objectives fall under a company’s personnel management department and put simply, they help employees perform better and strive for more. Setting these personalised performance goals can help a member of staff overcome a particular weakness, get them out of their comfort zone or make them more accountable.

The crucial factor when setting personalised performance goals and objectives is to understand how each employee works and what they respond best to. For some, this could be interpersonal objectives or it could be performance-related to their specific role.

We must also consider what the goals of the company are and align those personal development goals with the overall ambitions and targets of their teams and the business as a whole.

Research by the American Psychological Association has shown that 90% of the time, setting specific and challenging goals leads to higher performance as compared to setting easy or generic goals. So making use of this mechanism can be vital for business success.

How can personalised goals and objectives improve staff development?

Setting a personalised goal or objective is the starting point but for them to take hold and be effective for all concerned, a plan must be put in place.

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Known as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), managers and leaders can help employees achieve their goals in a structured and measured manner. It has always been the goal of the employee to develop their skills but without a plan of action in place, they have struggled to motivate themselves to improve in the past.

PIPs put a systemic approach in place, with documentation and strategies to bolster personal improvement goals. This offers a more engaging experience for the employee, helping them understand how to change or improve their behaviour and skills, and the benefits of it.

It also aims to deliver feedback that is tailored to them, helping them to better understand which aspects of their job they can improve upon, rather than an organisation-wide set of goals which may not be relevant to their specific role or individual progress.

Furthermore, this detailed level of communication shows to the member of staff that the company and management team understand the challenges they may be trying to overcome – and in certain situations can trigger a wholesale change if it shines a new light on an organisational inefficiency.

What type of objectives should companies set for individuals?

Dr Jared Sinclair of performance improvement consultancy, Sinclair Performance Institute, says “Goal setting can help to motivate employees and improve performance, as it gives them a clear sense of what they need to achieve and how they can contribute to the company’s success.” He adds, “by establishing progress markers and setting regular reminders, it is possible to keep oneself accountable and on track.”

Consider a SMART approach to personal objective setting – which is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. This allows for easy comprehension of the goal, while after a set time results can be measured to see how successful or not it has been. Let’s look at some of the goals and objectives organisations should be looking to improve the skills and performance of their staff.

Personal development projects

To begin supporting the future development goals centred around an individual’s role, path and with their own goals in mind, the best place to start is with a personal development project. This encourages staff to take a look at the skills they already have and highlight any weaknesses or holes that they feel would help them perform their role better. By asking employees to keep developing their skills, companies can instil an appetite for learning as opportunities for career progression become apparent to staff.

A personalised approach to employee development can also be highly motivational because having a monitored strategy will allow an employer to effectively measure the success of any goals set. However, this personalised approach can only act as a motivating factor for staff if your organisation showcases its willingness to promote individuals should they meet or exceed the targets set.

Both sides must be on the same page and be fully engaged and committed to the goals set by tracking the targets in a professional and reliable way. Any obvious lack of action on behalf of the company while staff are exerting extra efforts to meet such targets or improve their skill set can be demotivating.

Soft skills focus

Technical and industry-specific skills are something that most employees who you welcome through your doors will have. But while they may excel in those areas, a common shortcoming for many people is their soft skills, with 57% of recruiters struggling to assess soft skills accurately.

This can work well as a personalised objective as it challenges individuals to push themselves and improve their communication, time management, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Be that speaking up in meetings more often, offering to find creative solutions or simply interacting more with colleagues, by challenging staff to push themselves they will grow more confident and authoritative.

And while it’s good for the individual, soft skills development will naturally benefit your entire organisation as communication improves within teams and across departments. Those soft skill development objectives can also be set for departments, for example, to streamline meetings or reduce their frequency to free up more time for other tasks.

Improving customer satisfaction ratings

Companies can set personalised targets based on team goals. If the sales department has been tasked with improving customer satisfaction ratings then this can be filtered down to the individual staff member. For example, challenging them to increase the number of calls to clients they make by 10%. This can then be measured against the departmental objective of improved customer satisfaction.

Similarly, if a member of the team does fulfil the targeted number of calls to their clients but receives fewer reports of satisfaction than the others or the average, it presents an opportunity for personalised goals.

It may be that making calls to clients is not enough and that particular staff member needs to improve their communication skills, such as being able to present better to the client what a difference your service is making.

Raising brand awareness via individual contributions

Another example of a team goal that can be personalised to individual departmental members is raising brand awareness. This is such a critical element for business growth in an era where the internet powers so much of commerce. Companies are fighting hard to get noticed online and many consumers opt for brands they are familiar with over those they are not.

Brand awareness measurement tools such as customer surveys, branded search volume and website conversions are all useful ways for companies to know where they stand against the competition. But they can also be used to guide personalised performance goals and objectives.

For example, if you have an SEO manager then setting them a short-term goal of raising your domain ranking by a point or two is a reasonable objective to set. This filters down to those under the SEO manager’s wing and allows for more specific goals to be set depending on the role of the individual.

Those responsible for content may be required to improve the number of clicks and engagement social media posts have, while someone on the technical side may be responsible for improving the user experience on the company website.

Personalise Performance Goals and Objectives

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How to get employees involved in goal setting

It should not be a one-way street when it comes to goal and objective setting for staff. For effective goal setting and completion, companies and employees must come together to create a strategy that has an element of accountability.

A Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Study found that 76% of employees achieved their goals after writing down their goals, actions and providing weekly progress to a friend, 33% more than employees with no written goals or progress reporting. Accountability places the responsibility of development on the shoulders of the individual but also asks that their employer put a structure in place to enable it to happen.

Encourage feedback

It will be hard to fully understand the effectiveness of personalised goals or objectives if companies don’t take the time to listen to feedback from their employees. Explaining to their manager what worked for them and what didn’t in a particular objective can help companies to refine their procedures in the long run.

The more a company understands how to motivate and encourage its staff to develop, the better it will be at getting the desired results. Furthermore, companies that listen to their employees and try to help meet their needs can reduce the turnover rate, improve company culture and enjoy staff sticking around for the long term.

Staff development is key to long-term success

The importance of personalised goals and objectives can benefit both employees and the company they work for. Some objectives can be performance-related, looking for better results or returns and setting clear and measurable targets to track their progress.

Other personalised goals can aim to improve the soft skills of a staff member or a particular team, which in turn leads to better communication and problem-solving, which helps your business become more agile and robust.

When an employer works in collaboration with an individual member of staff and can ‘sing from the same songbook’ the results can be a win-win on both sides in the long term. This can be said when personalised development plans with achievable sets of goals are established and tracked.

In Summary

When personalised development plans are focused on the individual and designed with their merits, skills and role factored in, there are benefits to reap for the person and business at large. Providing a clear development strategy is motivational as well as being an effective tool for measuring someone’s ongoing performance.

It follows suit that a company’s productivity will increase when their employers are armed with long-term incentive packages, a well mapped out set of achievable goals, the tools to perform better within a defined and personalised framework that both parties are committed to following.

About the Author

Dakota Murphey is a freelance writer who specialises in business trends, digital marketing and company growth. She regularly contributes to a number of authoritative resources online and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with like-minded professionals.

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