Eight Strategies for Simplifying Employee Goal Setting

Effective strategies help simplify goal setting for a company’s employees, help improve productivity, inspire a workforce to work with intent and provide business success.

How do you make work life easier for your employees? It’s essential for an employer to give their employees everything they need to deliver their best work possible.

Simplifying goal setting for employees in 2023 is successful by implementing the right strategies. Typically, goal setting is set during annual reviews which many companies will give their employees.

These one-to-one meetings are critical to have as it checks in on how they’re doing. From creating personal goals to clarifying employer expectations and evaluating previous work performance, it’s all helpful for the employee.

However, it’s not something all businesses end up doing. With 46% of companies reviewing or revising goals throughout the year, more businesses need to focus on employee performance.

This in-depth guide will explore the key strategies worth using to help simplify goal-setting in the workplace for your employees in 2023. What is the purpose of goal setting and how do both employees and businesses benefit from them?

We’ll delve deep into the strategies which help simplify and create goals for employees. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the guidance needed to give your employees the best opportunity for success in their roles and on behalf of the business.

What are the benefits of employee goal setting?

Despite it seeming as though employees spend less on reviewing or revising employee goals, there are some great benefits to employee goal setting.

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American workers are generally satisfied with their jobs. However, many view it as ‘a job to get them by’. This isn’t a mindset a business wants for its employees.

As a business, keeping your employees happy and satisfied within their roles is critical. It bolsters their willingness to stick around, rather than to look elsewhere for greener pastures.

  • Boosts employee motivation
  • Improves productivity
  • Creates transparency
  • Challenges those who are top performers
  • Helps employees find a focus in their work

Motivation and productivity are two outstanding work traits needed in business. It’s highly influential to the success of the company. Creating transparency also leads to trust and loyalty within the workforce, which is sometimes lacking in business.

As a business, it’s important to have employees who are excelling in their roles but are still being challenged within their roles. It keeps the job interesting for those who may become complacent or find the work monotonous.

Types of employee goal setting frameworks

Before we give you our strategies for goal setting, it’s handy to understand what types of employee goal-setting frameworks there are. Every business is different, with its own hierarchy, and therefore, one of these goal-setting frameworks may work better than the others.

OKR goal setting

Objective and key results (OKRs) are useful to individuals, teams, and entire organisations to set and assign measurable goals and outcomes.

An example of this may look like this;

Objective – Improve client relationships to achieve more sales.

Key result one – Keep in regular contact with the client over email.

Key result two – Organise regular work dinners to show client appreciation.

Key result three – Resolve client pinch points for improved customer experience.

MBO goal setting

Management by objects – for short, MBOs – is a goal-setting strategy that improves both employee and company performance with a rewards-based system.

When employees complete goals set by the company, these goals come with rewards and recognition. This may be a promotion, financial reward, or another form of recognition.

SMART goal setting

Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) is another type of goal-setting. This framework design provides understandable steps for employees to achieve their goals successfully.

An example of a SMART goal may be;

S – I want to achieve the position of X within the company.

M – I will need to show my managers X, Y, and s before I achieve the position I want.

A – I’m the right fit for the position and have all the relevant education needed.

R – Within my role currently, I’m going above and beyond to show my commitment to the role.

T – I will aim to fulfill the position within five years.

Eight strategies for simplifying employee goal setting

To maximise the success your employees have within their goal setting, it’s important to simplify the process. Not only will it help employees grasp what’s required of them, but it will also ensure goals are achievable and have the best track record of success.

Get insights from the employees

Firstly, a good place to start when it comes to goal-setting is with the employees themselves. What is it they feel they need to achieve in their role? Is there something they have a particular passion for or would like to reach by a certain point in their career path?

Communication is essential between employees and the business. Setting goals that don’t align with the employee’s own personal goals and beliefs, is going to end up having the opposite effect.

When setting goals, the insights you get from your employees will provide harmony and balance. It’ll help the employee what they want and more importantly, what the business desires.

Introduce a performance management system

The difficulty with goal setting is it’s hard to maintain the performance of goals, once they’ve been set. This is particularly the case when a manager is managing the goals of multiple employees within their team.

To help, a platform like Leapsome is useful. Leapsome is a performance management system that centralises the process of people management. It helps notify management of upcoming performance reviews, and track OKRs and company goals in general.

As well as using data to help managers feedback and reward where necessary, it’s a useful platform that saves those in charge, time that they need to be more productive.

Make goals easy to understand

Many goals will end up failing because they’re too complex. You don’t want to create an objective that is full of unnecessary jargon. Keep it simple and if there’s more than one goal that’s being covered, create multiple goals instead.

The employee should be able to explain it to others and acquire assistance from others to further their progression.

Set goals that are challenging but achievable

These goals should be challenging, otherwise known as stretch goals. Stretch goals are high-effort and high-risk goals. They require the employee to go above and beyond their normal standards. Make the goals challenging but ensure they’re still achievable within the parameters of the employee’s own skills and experience.

You want goal setting to be an inspirational opportunity to help the employee grow and reduce the chances of complacency within the workplace.

Create goals that have a start and end

When it comes to goal setting, employees need to have a clear starting point and end point. This timeline is good to have in order to help inspire and motivate them on the days when they don’t feel like being productive.

It helps keep up the momentum so the goal is met quickly and efficiently. Have this conversation with your employees, especially as each employee handles goal-setting differently. Some will also have goals that are going to take more time than others to overcome.

Evaluate risks and provide preventional measures

With any goal or objective, there’s likely to be an element of risk. The more challenging and demanding it is, the more the employee has to lose if they put a foot wrong.

For example, it might be a goal of selling X amount of products. This might mean the employee has to invest more money, increase supplies and spend more time on this goal to get it across the finish line.

In a perfect world, the above example would go swimmingly, however that’s not always the case. It’s good to discuss the employee’s concerns regarding the goal and what risks exist. By identifying those risks, the employee and their peers are able to put preventative measures in place to protect themselves.

Incentivise with rewards and generate employee engagement

Your employees need motivation and often enough, many of us find motivation through a financial incentive. Getting recognition for hard work will make a lot of employees pull up their boots and take their goals seriously.

In order for more employees to succeed in their goals, a recognition and rewards platform is a great place to start. Many businesses now use softwares to generate employee engagement ideas that involve offering rewards.

These incentives are a fantastic way of boosting employee engagement, keeping them motivated, and above all else, improving their happiness. If you want your employees to reach those goals, give them something to work for.

Assess results and set new goals

In order to measure the success of these goals once completed, it’s worthwhile assessing the results. How long did it take the employee to complete the goal? What benefits did it have for the employee and the business in general?

Assessing the results will help to understand what worked and what didn’t so the next goals set are more refined. It’ll help employees achieve better results next time.

The challenges of goal setting

Of course, there are challenges with everything in business, and that goes for goal setting too. Mistakes occur in business in how they go about setting goals for their employees.

What challenges are there with goal setting that are useful to know, in order to avoid them?

Fear of failure

Fear of failure is something many employees feel. The inner saboteur is always present and it often has a major influence over the success of goals set.

In order to overcome this with goal setting, it’s important to shift our attitudes toward what failure means. Failure isn’t a negative outcome, in fact, it’s an opportunity to learn from previous mistakes.

Unrealistic expectations

Some businesses or leaders within the organisation set goals that are unrealistic. If a goal sounds impossible, then the likelihood of it being achieved is slim.

Instead of making them too unrealistic, it’s useful to work with the employee and understand the parameters of what’s possible.

Lack of commitment

A lack of commitment comes from the employee in question. They don’t put in the effort to achieve that goal because there’s something stopping them from doing so. It may be a lack of motivation, falling out of love with the job, or some other underlying issue.

Instead of ignoring it, it’s good to address the issue and understand why this might be. Hopefully, there’s an ability to resolve it.

Too much control

Don’t squeese the life out of these goal-setting opportunities. Taking too much control when it comes to monitoring an employee’s progress and the direction they’re taking is likely to ruin their success.

Allow your employees to make their own mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and make better decisions.

In Summary

Goal setting is a wonderful strategy for any business to implement for its employees. It inspires, motivates, and drives further success for all those who are willing to take it seriously. Try incorporating employee goals in 2023 and see the difference it makes to the morale in your organisation.


About the Author

Natalie Redman has three years of copywriting experience, with a specialism in SaaS. She also has a wide range of freelance experience in copywriting for businesses across many industries.

Team 6Q

Team 6Q