In an ideal world, the hiring process would be so flawless and efficient that every employee would be perfectly suited to their position and would have a complete understanding of their role from day one. Growth within the company would happen naturally, and as an employee gained the trust and confidence of his/her superiors, their responsibilities would increase at a proportional rate.
In reality, employee growth often happens in fits and starts, with a vast increase in one area often accompanied by stagnant skill acquisition in another. The pace and direction of an employee’s contributions can vary, and some of her greatest contributions can be among the most difficult to measure. Just like the evaluation process, the goal setting process is best approached with a dose of common sense and an understanding of the flexibility of human nature. As long as managers and employees keep the process meaningful and realistic, goal setting can be vital to employee growth and company productivity.
Here are a few common circumstances that can derail realistic goal setting. If you see these things happening, take control of the process and steer it back on track.
Employees are being compared to an unexamined standard. Employees need to meet and exceed expectations. But how are these expectations established? What is the gold standard, how is it measured, and how often is it reviewed and changed?
Employee resources are not being considered during the evaluation and goal setting process. Are employees working with limited tools under circumstances that undermine performance? If the answer is “I don’t know”, find out. Goals are realistic only when resources are taken into account.
Employees are being compared to each other, and nothing else. What productivity measurements are standard for the industry? Your geographic area? Research this before putting goals in place.
Performance is excellent but growth is slow, or vice versa. Often the most productive employees don’t improve much during a year. Sometimes the worst performers, on closer examination, have made enormous strides. Both of these should be considered victories, but only within limits. Take history into account when setting a course for the future.
Technology is being underutilized. If you are not using an automated solution for creating and tracking goals and linking them to corporate objectives, then you are making things harder than they need to be. Let technology suites such as CRG emPerform handle record management and data analysis so you can stay focused on the human element.