January 2018 Newsletter: Goal Setting as a Professional Practice – Setting Goals with Employees

Goal setting is a powerful piece of the performance evaluation process. Unfortunately, it is common for goals to be set during a performance review, recorded on the proper documentation, placed in the employee’s file, never to be looked at again. Using SMART goals may help with this unfortunate phenomenon, because if you incorporate SMART elements, it is likely that goals will have a specific elements and deadlines.

Be on the look-out for vague or lofty goals. Encourage employees to break down large aspirations into smaller, prioritized goals. When employees feel successful with smaller goals, they are more likely to continue to take steps toward their ultimate goal. Also, watch for goals that have a 12 month timeline. Encourage the employee to create a few short term goals that will be easier to manage and achieve.

Goal setting may require employees to also create action plans – these plans go into even more detail about how and when goals will be achieved. The SMART guidelines can apply to the wording of action plans as well.

Create a system of accountability that keeps track of the goals that employees are working toward. Set calendar reminders to check in with employees at the halfway point of their goals. This can help you to track progress, reconfirm your employees’ commitment to achieving their goals, and to offer support or resources. You can touch base with employees in person, via email or text message. You don’t need to set up a long meeting, unless the check-in uncovers the need to do so.

Work with employees to create a visual reminder of the goals they set. This could be a bulletin board in the employee lounge or someplace in the classroom. If an employee does not wish to have their goal advertised, it is fine to create a more private visual reminder. A public goal board can provide encouragement from peers and motivation.

When creating group goals, be sure to incorporate time during staff meetings for goal updates. Doing so consistently will send a powerful message that your program has developed a culture of progress and accountability.