“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment”
Setting Work Performance Goals with Your Employees
If you are in a leadership position, you are constantly faced with the challenge of keeping your employees motivated and productive. Most companies use work performance goals as a means of evaluating employees. However, from the employee’s point of view, they are often looked on as an arbitrary and rigid means of doling out raises. That is because many organizations fail to use goals properly.
Goals are most effective when the individual expected to meet them has a part in setting them. As a manager it is important to put yourself in the place of the employee and ask yourself these basic questions:
- What kind of goals would motivate me in this position?
- What sort of goals would make me happier and more productive in this position?
With these two questions in mind and with the help of the following pointers, employees will no longer view goals as mere management tools but rather as they should be: personal motivators for success that can help your employees succeed.
1. Include employees in the process
But give them guidance along the way. As their manager, you know best what they need to achieve in order to meet company objectives. But having them contribute to their own goal setting in a meaningful way will also help motivate them to meet the performance goals for their jobs. Failing to reach a goal we set for ourselves is always harder to swallow than failing to reach a goal we think leadership arbitrarily set for us. On a side note, having the employee help set goals will give you valuable insight into what motivates each individual.
2. Set deadlines
Open-ended goals promote procrastination. Many companies employ quarterly goals in conjunction with long-term annual goals. However, short-term goals will also provide an ongoing metric of the employee’s progress. Deadlines should also be set according to the rhythm of the metric they measure. For example, if you are servicing clients on monthly contracts then the goals should naturally have a monthly deadline. In such a case, weekly or bi-weekly goals will help the employee keep on track with reaching their objectives.
3. Make goals measurable
For goals to work they must be tied to some quantifiable data. That way when the deadline arrives there is no question whether the goal was reached or not. If you are unsure of how to measure success, enlist the help of your employee.
4. Give feedback
Regular feedback is vital in helping your employees reach the goals set for their work performance. When speaking to them, look for opportunities to give encouragement. But don’t allow the feedback to be one-sided. Listen to any concerns or suggestions the employee may have. Open communication may make the difference between a goal that is simply reached and one that is blown out of the water.
5. Reward success
Make the reward worth the work needed to obtain it. Again, consider what the employee will value. Some employees respond to cash incentives, extra time off, or gift cards. Others may prefer the public recognition of receiving an award. Who wouldn’t like to display an art glass award on their desk? Allowing the employee to help determine the reward will motivate them to work toward achieving it. Get creative and change rewards frequently so they don’t become routine.
6. Tweak as needed
Some goals will remain the same as long as the company is in business. These strategic goals reflect the core values of the company. But many goals are dynamic and should reflect the changing responsibilities and talents of the employee. Pin job performance goals to areas where the employee can improve. Finally, as the employee gains experience and additional responsibilities, make sure their goals grow with them.
A note on failure:
If an employee fails to meet their goals, it is not the end of the world. Of paramount importance is the attitude of the employee. Did their failure result from a lack of activity, or did they give their best but simply come up short? If an employee has put forth noticeable effort and still failed it would be counterproductive for a manager to humiliate or punish them. Failure from inactivity is what should be punished.
Performance goals are a benchmark of success. As long as an employee continues putting forth effort to reach them, they should continue to receive support from their managers. If you are having a hard time with this idea, consider some of the great failures in history. These would include the likes of Einstein, da Vinci, and Michael Jordan. Although known for their successes, these individuals had greater failure rates than their peers. But they kept striving toward their goals and eventually reached them.
Dennis Phoenix is a human resource specialist and avid business writer. He writes primarily on topics ranging from business relationships to employee satisfaction for Able Trophies.
Talkback: How have you increased the effectiveness of your employees work performance goals? List your ideas below.
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“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
~St. Francis of Assisi~
Client Sarah Asks: In this economy, money has to work very hard for us. We want to retain our best employees. How should we allocate our finances to maximize our retention?
Coach Joel Answers: That’s a great question, Sarah. Your company has a number of options—different ways to spend your money. To best motivate your workers to stay with you, you first need to understand them.
Not all workers respond the same way. Some of your options have tax consequences that might matter to your top talent. Others may perceive one or another of these choices as more prestigious or of greater value to them.
So your first step is to know your key players. Assess them. Find out what is most enticing and likely to keep them working for you.
Then choose from these four methods those that will work best for you, your employees, and your company.
1. Competitive salary. This is the first rabbit most businesses pull out of the bag. And for a very good reason. It is effective.A salary that pays market value means there’s no financial incentive for your worker to leave. They can’t expect a better offer elsewhere. And when you pay a little above average, workers may feel they are being paid extra for any small inconveniences that come with the job.
2. Bonuses. Sometimes companies need to see how their finances play out before they can reward their employees. They may give workers an average salary with the promise of a bonus if the company does well.
This has the added advantage of offering motivation. Each employee sees their salary more connected to the success of the company. They may make that extra effort to help the company succeed.
The benefit to you, Sarah, is that the company keeps its bottom line lower in difficult years, but can reward employees and keep retention up by promising bonuses in good years.
3. Fringe Benefits. Top talent may be motivated to stay with the company for certain perks. The choice corner office. Company car. Use of the company jet. Pizza Fridays. A nice company gym or offering child care.
Some fringe benefits offer prestige and status that is more enticing than money alone. Some may fill a compelling need of your workers.
Here is where you really need to know your employees. What kinds of fringe benefits connect with them? Is this something that makes financial sense to the company? Perhaps birthday recognitions are low cost, but highly satisfying to your workers. That leaves money on the table for other retention methods.
4. Stock options or company ownership. When employees are vested with company stock options or a chance to buy into the business you strengthen their commitment to their job. They are much less likely to leave.
You need to decide if this is a financially viable option for employee retention. Does it make sense in your business model?
Sarah, you are wise to consider the best uses of your company’s finances to increase worker retention. With the cost of hiring and retraining, it makes more sense to invest in keeping workers satisfied and happy. You gain the benefit of experienced workers. And happy employees are more productive.
To understand your worker’s motivations and develop a retention plan designed for success, contact Joel.
Talkback: What has your company done to retain employees? What has been most successful?
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“The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasures.”
~ Francoise Demotte Bille ~
Client Paul Asks: I’m tired of the same-old recognition presentations. I want my employees to know that I value them. I want to retain my top talent. But I want a fresh approach, a different way to recognize them.
Coach Joel Answers: You’re on the right track. Recently, when companies were asked if they thought employee aptitude or attitude was most critical for success, they chose attitude.
When you reward employees with interesting presentations, you will enhance workplace attitudes and keep your key people happy. But it doesn’t have to be boring. You can make those announcements of great performance fun and interesting.
Add a little humor, do something zany or off the wall to brighten things up. Or make it special or memorable.
- Place the commendation in the midst of a power point presentation. Imagine the impact on the room when a heart-felt commendation is presented, out-of-the blue in the middle of a meeting.
- Have fortune cookies made up with notes mentioning how great your employee or your team is. Then share them at a special presentation and see their faces light up.
- A personal, handwritten note, while not a public declaration, represents your time and indicates your appreciation in a way that is unmatched. Regular affirmations, even private ones, can make the recipient look forward to coming to work each day.
- Learn your employee’s favorite restaurant and give them a gift certificate for that place. Or perhaps tickets for their team’s event.
- Order a mug or T-shirt specially designed for the employee you want to recognize. Make the presentation and invite your worker to “dress down” and wear the T-shirt for the rest of the day. If it’s a mug, then fill it with his or her favorite coffee or tea.
- Throw a party for the honoree. Order in munchies, party hats or noise makers and let everyone know they are enjoying the break because of the great work of the employee you want to honor and retain.
- Award the top team with a lunch on you. Give them that freedom to eat and enjoy some down time as a way of saying “Thank you for a job well done.”
- Create a traveling “Good Job” trophy. It can sit on the desk of the employee you want to recognize for a week or two until the next worker is presented with the trophy.
- Make a giant card. Put it on an easel and have everyone write one thing they appreciate about your star employee.
- Construct a large sign with appropriate wording to honor your key player. It might be something that could hang outside his or her office for a period of time. It could be serious, wacky, or funny, depending on your office culture.
Paul, employees always appreciate a financial reward for hard work, but a creative presentation can make your workers feel valued. It will make the office more interesting and interactive. And when your staff is having fun and knowing they are appreciated, they will want to stay with you.
If you’re looking for unusual or interesting employee retention presentations, contact Joel. He’ll help you improve the attitudes of your staff.
Talkback: What out-of-the-box presentations have you given to reward your employees?
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“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”
~ Bob Nelson~
Client Joan Asks: We’ve been really struggling with an employee retention problem. I’d like to help my managers determine where the problem may lie and come up with some solutions we can implement to keep our employees productive and happy.
Do you have some articles I could recommend to them that would help?
Coach Joel Answers: I like the direction you are going, Joan. If you allow your managers to read up on the way other people have resolved this problem, you get some buy in.
Then when they come to the table to discuss their ideas and solutions, you already have them taking ownership of the problem. They will be more interested in working toward a solution.
Here are six articles that will get you started.
1. How Managers Can Improve Their Workplaces for Employees. Joan, the fact is, most employees leave because of their boss and the management. The great thing about the suggestions in this article is that you don’t need to bust your budget to accomplish these strategies.
You’ll find seven simple steps you and your managers can take immediately to help retain more employees. Read Employee Retention Article.
2. Ten Ways to Keep Your Star Employees. Anytime you have top talent, you want to have them happy and secure with you. One of the issues that surfaces with rising stars is they will not stay if they don’t feel they are doing fulfilling work. Also, if they feel they are totally inundated with work they may become discouraged. Read Star Employees Article.
3. Highly Engaged Workplace. Sometimes you find workers just “biding their time” at their job. They don’t feel committed to the work. They stick it out because of the down economy, but don’t feel any loyalty to your company. This article helps you identify the key things that bring your employees fulfillment.
When you find those benefits and work situation that engages your workers, you change them from “waiting to leave,” to “wanting to stay.” It changes the entire workplace environment. Read Engaged Workplace Article.
4. How Men and Women in Leadership Can Help Employees Succeed. When employees are properly trained and feel they are using their skill sets to succeed, they enjoy their jobs more.
Use this article to examine the training opportunities you have in place. Do your workers need tutoring, mentoring, coaching or on-the-job training to feel more valuable? Are your employees confused about expectations and how you define success? This article will help you evaluate your workers better. Read Help Employees Succeed Article.
5. Give Employees What They Need. Sometimes as you evaluate your employee retention issue, you may discover that you have not given your staff the tools they need to succeed.
When workers stand on uncertain ground, they seek the security of another job. With this article you’ll find six tips to strengthen your employees’ commitment to succeed at your job instead of looking elsewhere. Read Keep Employees Motivated Article.
6. Learn How to Create a Happy Workplace with an Employee Retention Survey. What’s the best way to determine whether your employees are happy or unhappy and why? Ask them! This articles explains the importance of surveying current employees and provides examples of questions to include on your survey. Read the Employee Survey Article.
Joan, as your managers look at these employee retention articles, they will see where they can strengthen the workplace and their management skills. When employees enjoy their job, their manager, their work environment, and their pay you will find your retention problem disappears.
Looking for the solutions to your employee retention issues? Email Joel for options specifically designed for your situation.
Talkback: What articles have you read lately that could help managers keep their workers satisfied?
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“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
~Anne M. Mulcahy~
What comes to mind when you think of business success? Improving the bottom line? Cutting costs while increasing profits? Those are important, but no business is successful for long without good, talented employees who are happy to come to work and do their best every day. Below are ways to focus on improving employee satisfaction – and increasing your business’ success and profitability at the same time:
1. Value your employees – in every way.
Did you ever have a boss who was quick to praise for a job well done – but stingy with benefits and pay? Actions always speak louder than words, and while current finances may not always permit you to pay top dollar, pay as much as you can based upon company profitability. In other words, the employee who toils five days or more a week to help make your company a success deserves to be recognized for that effort with praise and with benefits and pay commensurate with performance. Fair pay for work done is one of the best ways to improve employee satisfaction, and it’s also simply fair.
2. Create a culture of true camaraderie.
Of course, your first priority each day is to get business done and make your company successful. To do that, though, it’s important to have fun once in a while too, as colleagues. Schedule office parties occasionally where all employees are invited to bring their spouse/significant other and children, too. Acknowledge birthdays with a 15-minute impromptu party. Don’t frown upon spontaneous wiffleball games in the hallway; in fact, why not join in? Improving employee satisfaction means letting your hair down once in a while – prudently – and allowing your employees do the same.
3. Celebrate victories together.
All too often, companies reward management with big bonuses and lots of recognition, but overlook the accomplishments of lower-level employees, some of whom may have significantly contributed to management’s successes. That’s not fair, and employees (rightly) resent that. Instead, whenever your company has a big victory, celebrate together. Schedule a company lunch, or have a little party. Recognize your entire team – everyone. Recognition is a central component of improving employee satisfaction.
4. Be a part of your local community.
One of the best ways to create a cohesive work environment is to become a part of the local community. Connect with your community as a group, and give back to it. Get involved in community service as a company. Investigate what particular needs your community has. Serve Thanksgiving dinner at the local homeless shelter, or volunteer to participate in a cancer walk as a company team. Getting out of the work environment and rolling up your sleeves together toward a shared goal brings cohesiveness to your group that continues back at the office. Breaking out of everyday roles outside of the office can go a long way toward improving employee satisfaction in the office as well.
5. Encourage open communication.
Don’t just say you want to foster open communication; do it. If your employees don’t feel they can talk to management, they won’t; resentments will fester, and productivity and employee morale will fall.
Communication starts with you. Tell your employees how they’re doing, and encourage them to talk to you about how you are doing, too. This isn’t about insubordination, by the way. Don’t take the attitude that because you’re the boss, you’re naturally untouchable. If something’s wrong with the way the company is being run or the way people are being treated, employees should be able to tell you about it. If you’re a large company, you may not know that there may be a particular problem with lower management unless you’re told – and you won’t be if employees can’t speak up.
Communication shouldn’t just be about problems that need to be fixed, either. Your employees comprise your own rich brain trust that can help your company, products, or services become better. Encourage employees to share their ideas and reward them for those you use. When employees are heard and valued, improving employee job satisfaction won’t be a chore you “must do.” It will simply happen.
About the author: Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is Vice President, Business Development Strategy and Analysis at Progressus Therapy, a leader in connecting their candidates with school-based PT jobs and early intervention service jobs.
Do you need happier employees? For tips, help, and coaching on improving the satisfaction of your employees contact Joel.
Talkback: What steps have you taken to increase the morale at your office? What has worked best… or failed spectacularly?
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