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The Best Employee Goal Setting Framework for Managers

Goals give employees a clear direction of where they’re going in their career. However, not every employer sits down and sets the right goals for their employees.

Setting goals doesn’t have to be difficult. By adopting the best employee goal setting framework, you can support and engage your employees while reaching your overall business goals.

In this post, we’ll show you how to set goals for your staff using the right framework.

Why is employee goal setting important?

  • Having goals allows employees to visualize their future and have a clear vision of where they’re going, instead of feeling lost. They’ll work with a purpose instead of walking around blindly.
  • Setting goals also improves employee engagement and retention. As staff understand where they’re headed and how they work contributes to the overall business goals, they’re more likely to engage. Additionally, when staff know their employer supports their career growth, they’re more likely to stay.
  • Plus, employee goal setting helps improve team alignment. When you sit down with your staff and plan goals together, you can align their individual goals with your team goals. This makes sure everyone is working and striving toward the same thing.

How to set goals using the best employee goal setting framework

1. Understand organizational goals and team goals

Before setting smaller goals for your staff, you need to be clear about the big picture—your organizational goals and team goals.

Some questions to help you find out the big goals (if you haven’t created some for your business):

  • What are our organizational goals? What things are our company working towards?
  • What are our team goals? What things are our team working towards?
  • What can this team member do to serve our organizational goals and team goals?

2. Understand your employees

Knowing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses helps you set goals more effectively and appropriately.

Have one-on-one conversations with each employee. Talk about their skills, preferences, interests, and areas they want to excel in.

You can also encourage employees to reflect on themselves before coming to this conversation by providing them these questions beforehand:

  • What motivates you to go to work every day?
  • What skills do you want to improve?
  • How would you want to use your strengths?
  • How can you contribute to the organizational goals and team goals?

3. Set SMART goals together with your employees

Now that you gain a deeper understanding of your employees, it’s time to set specific goals. We recommend using SMART criteria to base your goals on. 

There are 2 main types of goals you should balance:

  • Performance goals: goals that are related to team goals and organizational goals.
  • Development goals: goals that help employees improve their skills and expertise.

SMART criteria include: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based.

Make sure that you don’t put in too many goals because it can be overwhelming for your staff.

After setting goals together, you can discuss with staff and create an action plan together. The action plan should be specific enough, with resources, tools, strategies, and tactics needed to achieve those goals. What kinds of tasks that staff need to do and are there any KPIs to track their performance?

4. Provide training opportunities

Now that there are actionable goals and a specific plan, you need to provide adequate training and support to help employees work on their goals.

Depending on your budget, you can offer different forms of training, whether it’s a one-day workshop, an online course, or a month-long training program.

5. Review and give feedback on employees’ progress

You can’t just throw training programs and tasks at employees without any support or review. To show your support and provide help, you need to give feedback on your employee performance and progress.

Tell employees what they’re doing well, as well as what they need to work on, and how. And of course, in a constructive and positive way. This not only engages your workforce, but also upgrades them so they can the best people for your business.

You can conduct monthly/quarterly one-on-one conversations to talk about employees’ progress. Here you can discuss challenges that prevent your staff from achieving their goals, and whether the goals set before are still relevant. At this stage, you can adjust or change the goals accordingly.

Some questions to review employees’ progress include:

  • Do you think you can achieve the goals we’ve set before? Why?
  • What are some other actions you think can help you achieve your goals?
  • Do you think the goals are challenging enough? Do you want to make changes to them?
  • Are there anything in the action plan that we need to adjust?

What to do if goals aren’t met

Not all goals can be met successfully. Sometimes, employees aren’t motivated enough or the goals are too challenging. Sometimes, difficulties arise and prevent staff from accomplishing those goals.

If goals aren’t met, both management and staff can feel disappointed and demotivated. You should sit down together and figure out what truly hinders the process and how to overcome it.

The purpose of those conversations should be to encourage staff to share what the true obstacles are. You can then tweak the plan to fit the employees’ capabilities, while still serve the team goals effectively.

Some questions you can ask your staff:

  • What do you think is the true problem with the goal? Is it not specific enough or do you need more time to work on it?
  • Is there anything you can do to solve that problem?
  • Do you lack the resources and support to help achieve the goal?
  • Should we adjust the goals? Such as changing its timeline or KPIs?
  • Is there anything I can help?

Use the right goal setting framework to motivate your employees

Using the best employee goal setting framework helps employees work with a purpose, engage more with their work, and achieve better performance. 

Remember that goals shouldn’t be set in stone, you can always come back and adjust them to fit with employees’ abilities and business needs.

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