Goal setting can be one of the most powerful tools you have as a manager. It certainly is the one with the greatest potential. Goal setting can serve as the foundation from which you can guide individuals and foster engagement while achieving broader organizational objectives and shareholder satisfaction. On the other hand, mishandling the goal setting process can prove disastrous. Morale can tank, lawsuits can occur and you can jeopardize your job if you fail to approach goal setting properly. The most effective managers understand the process, model the way for employees and align employee strengths with goals to maximize results.
Departmental or unit goals and ultimately employee goals, are typically derived from broader organizational goals. Such goals are often created by executive teams with input from various levels. This type of goal setting usually results in strategic plans that provide the broader direction for the organization.
The terminology used to set goals and manage performance varies widely—many organizations even adapt terms to fit with processes or align with culture. There are a set of generally accepted terms from which most organizations could benefit, they include:
- Goals are accomplishments to be achieved.
- Objectives have specific, measurable steps that have a completion date.
- Strategies are the “thinking” aspects involved in achieving objectives. This is what happens above the shoulders.
- Tactics are the “doing” aspects involved in achieving strategies. This is what happens below the shoulders.
While having employees suggest which goals they should assume responsibility for, it is your responsibility as a manager to lead the process and ensure their goals are aligned with organizational needs. You may also want to consider developmental opportunities for them while also creating opportunities for them to use their strengths.
- Employee contributions to planning and goal setting can be increased when consistent terminology is used.
- Organizations and leaders use different terminology and methods to set goals. You may need to adjust your approach to ensure alignment with your organization’s practices.
- During your first 30 days, review your organization’s materials and compare your understanding of terminology and methods.
- Discuss any major discrepancies in the use of terminology or goal setting methods with your supervisor.