How to Set Corporate Goals Your Employees Want to Achieve.

December 9, 2023

Turning the page on our calendars from December to January often fosters a sense of anticipation for new beginnings and fresh starts. For businesses, setting corporate goals is not just a New Year's tradition; it's a strategic imperative. 

At Syndeo, we help our clients get clear about their goals. Most of the time, specific advice is limited to our areas of expertise: human resources and improving customer service. But the timeless wisdom of goal setting spreads beyond those spheres of influence. 

In this article, we'll talk about:

  • Why good goals are important
  • How every team member can help
  • How to check if you're doing a good job
  • Three special tips to make your goals even better.

To start, we always encourage our clients to make goals that are realistic, relevant, and measurable:

Goals must be realistic.

Is this aim something that your people can actually achieve? Is it something that will move your business forward? Does it align with your company's vision and values? If the goal is unattainable, instead of producing motivation and momentum to achieve it, the goal will only demoralize your team and discourage them from pursuing it. 

Goals must be relevant.

Does this goal make an impact on the work we are doing today? Does this goal impact how we will work in the future? By prioritizing goals that are relevant to your people, you help them maintain focus to achieve the next steps all of you are working towards. Relevant goals prevent you from wasting time and getting distracted. 

Goals must be measurable. 

Without a metric of success/achievement, how will you ever know if you get there? Each member of your team should understand what attainment of the goal they are working towards will look like. 

But making goals goes beyond that. Now let’s take a practical look at how making goals looks like in day-to-day operations.  

Breaking down goals for each member of the team.

Often, the overarching goals need to be broken down so your employees can understand how their role plays in achieving the company’s goals. 

Here’s an example from our own company: our founder, Bill, does a terrific job of casting a vision for our year-to-year goals. He keeps them simple and concise so they are easy to recall and easy to talk about, and he references them often within our staff meetings. His first goal for our company is 15 percent growth year-over-year, and the second goal is achieving a 90 percent NetPromoter Score. (NetPromoter is a third-party evaluation tool that assesses customer loyalty based on single-question customer surveys.)

Notice how his goals are realistic, relevant, and measurable. 

But sometimes, there can be a disconnect between how a single member of our service team directly impacts the larger company goals. How does the payroll specialist, for example, specifically contribute to our 15 percent growth goal? Here is where the goals that our executive team sets for each of our departments, and the goals each of our managers set for their service teams pave the way for achieving the overarching Syndeo goals. We are tasked with breaking down the goals to help every person see how their individual contribution to provide the best customer service day in and day out increases our company’s profit. When our service teams recognize that their efforts play a large role in moving the needle toward our larger company, we see that their efforts improve and can-do attitudes take flight. 

Using goals to evaluate individual performance. 

The truth is most traditional methods of goal setting and employee reviews don’t work in most workplaces anymore. The reason is simple: they’re usually based on antiquated rating scales. Performance evaluation factors based on a banal, impersonal number system does nothing to help employees understand how they can grow or get better. Nobody likes giving those ratings, and nobody likes getting them. This old model of employee performance evaluation does not align with the modern, employee-centric workforce that exists today.  

Qualitative goals vs. quantitative goals

Instead of solely tracking achievement based on a rating system, forward-thinking companies are adding goals with benchmarks that document the quality of effort towards the goal itself. Using performance evaluation software that integrates with our proven HRIS platform, at Syndeo, we are moving to a review model with frequent touch bases focused on tracking anecdotal stories that indicate progress towards the goals and measurable objectives. For example, instead of asking our managers to rate employee performance based on our value of integrity (one of our core values), our managers ask, “Tell me about a time where you displayed integrity with a client even though it was difficult.” By recording the employee response, we have concrete evidence of their commitment to core value as well as indication of their overall personal growth. With frequent touch points for this type of evaluation, we are able track our ongoing goals in real time. Reviewing progress made toward goals on a more frequent basis helps our managers and our employees to identify progress towards goals over the review period and leaves space to tweak the goals as necessary to continue making forward progress. 

As a business leader, here are three strategies to improve the effectiveness of your goal setting for the New Year: 

1. Communicate about the goals regularly. 

Don’t wait until year-end reviews to evaluate how well you achieved the goal. Communicate with your employees what your goals are from the beginning, even in recruiting materials and the interview process. Being transparent in these ways communicates their importance to your organization. 

In addition, communicate your goals constantly. Bring them up regularly as you evaluate your progress towards meeting them. If they will be achieved before the deadline, share that news with your employees. People are energized by knowing they are doing a good job and achieving success. By regularly sharing about your progress, you indicate the priority of your goals in your company. 

2. Incentivize individual efforts towards the goal.

Bonuses are the most popular to incentivize getting your employees on board. Year-end profit-sharing bonuses are an easy way for your employees to connect their daily efforts towards achieving goals with the year-end business goals. By connecting their efforts to a clear reward, you build excitement and create anticipation in achieving its success. Your employees will look forward to hearing more about their progress and, in turn, will motivate them to continue seeking its achievement.

Other rewards can be motivating as well, including extra or extended paid time off, catered on-site meals for staff meetings or parties, or off-site team building activities like an afternoon at Top Golf or Chicken’N’Pickle.

3. Celebrate achieving the goal.

By communicating your business goals regularly, your employees can begin to anticipate how to celebrate achieving them. The most important part of the celebration is the tie-back to achieving the goal. 

One last thing to mention: share your why.

And, as you embark on this journey of setting and achieving goals, remember to share your "why." As author Simon Sinek suggests, starting with the "why" not only gives purpose to your goals but also instills a sense of meaning and direction in your team, driving them toward success with a shared vision. In the end, the "why" is the heart and soul of every goal, guiding us on our path to excellence and fulfillment.

What are strategies that have helped you and your team with goal planning? Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe to our newsletter for more thought-provoking HR content from Syndeo. To learn more about how outsourced HR services can get you back to business, contact Syndeo today!

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