When it comes to setting goals, it pays to get SMART
The best way to empower your employees with goal-setting is by using the SMART strategy for setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. Specificity refers to goals that are not vaguely worded (e.g., “I want to make more money”) and instead offer a clear finish line (e.g., “I want to increase my own sales by 50%”). Measurability refers to goals that can be quantified, so you can clearly determine whether the goal was met or not (e.g., decreasing time wasted on checking and responding to emails by 60 minutes per day).
Attainability refers to goals that your employees can reasonably accomplish. While some managers argue they should set impossible expectations for employees in order to push them to try their best, psychological research generally agrees that attainability is more empowering because you’re not dooming your employees to fail if goals are attainable.
Relevancy refers to goals that are specific to the employees’ jobs and current struggles in their positions (rather than a meaningless goal that’s set just for the sake of having a goal to strive towards). Finally, timebound goals refer to those that have a specific deadline. Instead of setting goals with indefinite time frames, it’s important to encourage your employees to set deadlines to hold themselves accountable.
Increase Self-Motivation and Job Performance
By adopting the SMART goal-setting strategy in your workplace, your employees will likely feel more self-motivated to succeed (rather than externally pressured to perform) and their performance on-the-job will likely improve as a result. Employees that are self-motivated typically stay with their employers longer and are more productive because they genuinely enjoy their work, compared to employees who feel coerced into performing by harsh managers who set unattainable goals and deadlines that doom employees to failure.
Increasing employees’ motivation is integral to efficiency in the workplace as well as increasing rates of employee retainment. While the drill sergeant strategy of high-pressure and minimal praise might work for some employees, you’ll be better off using the SMART strategy to propel your team to success on their own terms.
Setting and tracking goals with your employees doesn’t just improve their own job satisfaction and performance, it also builds camaraderie between you and your team because active goal-tracking demonstrates you care about them meeting their goals. As opposed to a “set it and forget it” approach to goal-setting, assisting employees with their goals (including suggestions for tweaks and new pathways to achieving those goals along the way) increases the likelihood they’ll accomplish those goals and feel more positively about your role as their manager as you show your dedication to their success in the workplace.