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5 ways to set winning goals–and stick to them

Now is the time leaders should be laying out their ambitions for the organization and its teams.

5 ways to set winning goals–and stick to them
[Source images: Rawpixel; Sam Mgrdichian/Unsplash]

The New Year is an opportune time for leaders to establish company and employee goals for 2022. But while many of us are jazzed in January to set goals for the year, this excitement can quickly fade come February as the day-to-day work grind sets in. Goal setting is an essential part of work, and as leaders, it is important to carve out time with your employees to set goals and put systems in place to measure progress throughout the year. 

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Our company started setting and measuring goals five years ago and it has completely changed our business. Last year, it helped us increase our revenue by 63% percent, but more importantly, it increased our employee engagement, satisfaction and retention. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we were able to retain 88% of our staff in 2021, especially at a time when many companies faced a mass exodus of employees.

Here is what has worked for us, and some considerations for effective goal-setting in the workplace.

Establish Company Goals First

Before you can set employee goals, you must first establish company goals for the year. Everybody at the company must be rowing in the same direction to achieve success. To do this, meet early in the year to determine what the number one goal is for the company. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a revenue or profit goal. Think about what’s the most impactful change your company can make outside of the daily whirlwind that will have the most benefit to your customers, and one that will trickle down to your team members internally. 

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Good questions to ask—what’s one differentiator that we need to fix because it’s not working well or one that is such a big improvement that it will have an incredible impact on everyone? Once your company goals are established, it’s important that every department has a feeder toward the overall goal. From there, you can start to develop individual employee goals. Every employee and department goal must align and feed into the overall company goal.

Make Individual Goal Setting Collaborative

Individual goal setting should be a collaborative process to engage employees, but always keep the ultimate annual company goal in mind. Create a collaborative goal-setting environment by hosting off-site planning meetings where employees have the opportunity to think big. We are big fans of whiteboards and add both company and employee ideas to the board. From there, we focus on what is truly measurable. Many goals seem appealing and exciting, but if they are not measurable, then they won’t work. Narrow the measurable goals down to what would support the annual company goal best, and then determine the final goal for the department or employee.  

Managers should meet with employees on a regular basis, whether weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, to review goals. Some goals might be unattainable, and some might be achieved quickly but it’s important to know what’s working and what’s not working so that you can create a path of success for everyone. 

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Overcommunicate 

As CEO, I used to think that company goals should only be discussed with the leadership team. That was a misstep. Once I started communicating goals to the entire company and engaging employees in the process, the business was even more successful. It’s important for leaders to communicate, and air on the side of over communicating company goals and everyone’s role in achieving the goals on a regular basis. Live reporting to all staff on the status of reaching those goals is key, and leaders should always be agile and ready to make changes if necessary.

Measure Progress

Track workplace goals like a hawk. If you can’t measure it, you can’t maintain it. For us, we have found success by implementing a structured plan which includes measuring weekly and monthly scorecards at the employee, department and company level. We also review goals quarterly and annually.

During the goal tracking process, meet frequently with your employees, and ask questions such as—do you feel like you’re successful? Do you feel like what we are asking for is realistic? Do you feel like you are being managed properly? Leaders should collect genuine feedback to confirm the goals are attainable and be supportive in helping teammates achieve them. 

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Oftentimes, you will see a push from the top down at companies to make things happen. But it’s more important to get feedback from the bottom up to ensure you are providing support, tools and resources to your team members to help them hit their goals.

Recognize Achievements

Leaders should recognize employees as goals are achieved and reward them. Talent is the most important component to a company and recognizing your talent and helping them move up in their career should be a focal point. We reward financially as goals are achieved because in a competitive labor market, we want to eliminate the money factor. We incentivize and also give bonuses as employees meet certain metrics. We also give weekly shoutouts to staff, and recently started using Wishlist, a simple employee rewards and recognition software, which has been a big hit.

The biggest takeaway for leaders–the most effective goals should motivate your team without discouraging them from trying. If you establish clear goals, create an environment where inclusive and ongoing communication is welcome, frequently measure progress and reward achievements along the way, you will engage and empower your employees to succeed.

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Kori Covrigaru is cofounder and CEO of PlanOmatic, a leading provider of property insights and marketing services for the single-family rental industry nationwide.


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