Eyes on the Prize

goal settingMost of us don’t wake up in the morning intending to accomplish a goal. Unless of course, you aim low…like not spilling your coffee or misplacing your phone. Seriously, we’re often just too busy getting things done today to think much about where we want to be months or years from now. Same goes for your employees. However, helping employees set and reach goals – and rewarding them when they do – is one of the keys to creating a positive corporate culture.

First, goals should be realistic. In a lukewarm economy, a sales goal of 65% over the previous quarter might be setting the bar a little high! Go with what’s achievable. When that goal has been met and your employee feels confident, up the ante a bit for the next one. And don’t confine goals to the workplace. Encourage employees to make improvements in their personal lives, like working towards a degree, buying a home or training for a marathon.

Second, consider the time frame. How many of us have been asked the dreaded interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” If employees aim too far out, it’s too easy for them to lose sight of the goal. Or circumstances might arise that completely sidetrack them from achieving it. Six months out is a good start for most goals.

goal setting steps to successThird, keep an eye on progress. This doesn’t have to be a formal review of any kind. And don’t make your employees feel like Big Brother is watching them. Let them know you’re interested and that you want to help – and that there won’t be a penalty if they don’t make it.

Fourth, always reward success! As closely as possible, the reward should be commensurate with the goal achieved. If an employee has reached a personal goal, public acknowledgment is appropriate. But always offer recognition – and encouragement towards the next goal along the way!

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