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How to help employees meet their goals


On HBR.org, Amy Gallo looks at ways of making sure your employees succeed in achieving their goals.

The author observes: "It's common knowledge that helping employees set and reach goals is a critical part of every manager's job. Employees want to see how their work contributes to larger corporate objectives, and setting the right targets makes this connection explicit for them, and for you, as their manager."

She adds: "Goal-setting is particularly important as a mechanism for providing ongoing and year-end feedback. By establishing and monitoring targets, you can give your employees real-time input on their performance while motivating them to achieve more."


Because there are serious consequences for all parties if the employee fails to meet their goals, you need to be sufficiently involved to provide support while allowing individuals room to succeed on their own.

Gallo provides some principles to follow as you balance your hands-on role:

• Connect employee goals to larger company goals. Employees are more likely to become disengaged if they are not aware of the role they are playing in the success of the company. They should understand how their efforts contribute to the broader corporate strategy.

• Make sure goals are attainable but challenging. You could destroy morale if goals are too challenging to be accomplished, but aiming too low will create missed opportunities and mediocrity.

• Create a plan for success. Gallo says: "Once a goal is set, ask your employee to explain how he plans to meet it. Have him break goals down into tasks and set interim objectives, especially if it's a large or long-term project."

• Monitor progress. Don't wait until deadlines to review accomplishments. Offer regular feedback and coaching and encourage communication.

• When things go wrong. Your employees should feel comfortable in approaching you if problems arise. Ask them to find a potential solution and then offer guidance and advice.

• What about personal goals? "Some managers neglect to think about what an employee is personally trying to accomplish in the context of work," says Gallo.

She adds: "For example, if your employee has expressed an interest in teaching but that is not part of his job responsibilities, you may be able to find ways to sculpt his job to include opportunities to train peers or less experienced colleagues."

• When goals aren't met. When employees fail to meet their targets, hold them to account and discuss what happened. Offer your opinion of what went wrong and listen to theirs. Consider how you might have contributed to the failure and also discuss that openly.

Source Article: Making Sure Your Employees Succeed
Author(s): Amy Gallo
Publisher: HBR.org