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Do Your Goals Motivate and Engage Your Employees?

January 2, 2018

Setting goals is a great and efficient way to engage your employees. It gives them direction and motivation as well as a clear frame of reference for success. However, not all goals are created equally. Some goals are more motivating than others. Below are four recommendations for how you can set motivating goals for your employees.

  1. Work with your employee to set the goals.

    In order for a goal to be truly motivating, the employee has to have goal acceptance, meaning they intend to pursue the goal. One method to gain goal acceptance is to work with the employee on setting the goals. Listen to what the employee thinks are appropriate goals and collaborate with them to set them. Showing the employee that their opinion matters will help gain buy-in.

  2. Create specific and measurable goals.

    Goals like "do a better job with XYZ" do little to direct and encourage employees. Instead of setting generic or vague goals, make them specific and measurable. Removing ambiguity allows the employee to focus on exact actions and behaviors associated with goal achievement. For example, setting a goal to increase sales is far less effective than a goal to increase sales by 12% by May. Having specific and measurable goals provide the employee with references to gauge their progress. With a clear objective in mind, employees will be more dedicated to reaching their goals.

    Related: 5 Things Successful Companies do to Retain Top Talent
  3. Make the goals challenging but attainable.

    The goals should be set at just the right difficultly level, not too easy but not too hard. If a goal is too easy, it will not effectively motivate the employee to grow and improve. Easy goals will not push employees to achieve a higher performance. However, if the goal is too difficult and the employee sees it as unattainable, they will not commit to the goal and will not attempt to accomplish it. When setting goals, strive to find that nice middle ground where goals are challenging yet attainable.

  4. Provide feedback.

    In order for goals to remain effective and to keep the employees committed, feedback is necessary. If you do not provide feedback, your employees may be unaware of their progress on the goals. Furthermore, by providing feedback, you can also help the employee further improve their efforts. Similar to goals, feedback should also be specific and constructive to provide the employee with guidance on how to meet the objectives. Without feedback, it may be difficult for the employee to gauge their progress towards their goals. Read more about why real-time feedback is the future of employee development

If done correctly, setting goals is a great way to motivate employees to further develop and reach higher performance standards. With the new year, take some time to sit down with your employees to set new goals.

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Cassandra Walter Cassandra Walter is a Consulting Associate located at PSI's Pittsburgh office. She holds a master's degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. She works with clients across many different industries, including manufacturing, retail, customer service, and healthcare. Her areas of expertise include providing training and support for PSI’s applicant tracking system, as well as assisting clients with requests and questions regarding tools and processes.