Best Practices to Help Your Employees Set Their Professional Goals


For anyone to improve or advance, they need to have goals set, regardless of whether that’s in an individual’s professional or personal life. Though it might be largely the responsibility of the individual, the managers of their workplace also play a large role in employee goal setting. By setting attainable and measurable goals, a manager can guide improvements in employee performances, strengthen the dealership, and enhance its overall reputation.

Employee goal setting can also be great for the company’s future and short term successes, deeper employee engagement, and creating guidelines for a successful performance review. A 2014 Towers Watson study stated that only half of the participating organizations worked with their employees to set their individual performance goals.

However, as is with most things, it’s easier said than done. The problem is that there are too many possible reasons as to why it isn’t being done as efficiently as possible that it’s hard to know where to start. One of the biggest problems comes from a lack of top-down transparency, which leads to an inconsistency in alignment with the values of the company as well as an overabundance of micromanagement.

Helping your employees set and reach their set goals is (and should) be a critical part of your job as a manager. Employees need and want to see their work contributing to the organization’s objectives. Goal setting also doubles as a mechanism for providing year-end and ongoing feedback. By monitoring and establishing targets, you allow your employees to have real-time inputs on their performances while subsequently also motivating them to continue striving for more.

With that said, you might also realize that there are countless ways for you to aid your employees in goal settings. But, which out of those countless techniques can actually make a difference and help your employees with their professional goals. Below, we’ll be going through the 7 tips for effective employee goal setting to boost productivity and engagement.


7 Tips For Helping Employees To Set Their Professional Goals

  1. Set SMART Goals

It’s not an effective goal to ask your employees to do ‘a better job’. As Michelle M. White, a Paychecx HR consultant, states, every goal should be set using the SMART framework.

Specific: Create goals that are specific and clear to what they do.

Measurable: Ensure that each goal is measurable so that they can easily track their progress and create a goal that is motivating and meaningful for the employee.

Achievable: The goal set should be attainable, but it should also push the employee to stretch beyond their current skill set.

Relevant: The goal set should align with the other goals of the employee but also remain worthwhile.

Time-Based: Ensure a target date is set for meeting the goal in order for it to remain

  1. Set Goals That Align With The Objectives Of The Company

Each employee should have goals that are tied to the overall growth strategy of the company in order for them to be as effective as possible. When employees have a full understanding of how their individual responsibilities and roles are contributing to the growth of the organization, they will be more motivated and focused to achieve success for themselves and the dealership.

It can also be great for consistently communication strategic goals and regularly emphasizing the mission of the dealership to keep your employees engaged. McKinsey & Company noted in 2017 that there was an uptick in businesses choosing to link their key strategic objectives to their organizational goals and then converting those into team-performance goals.

  1. Reward Employees That Achieve Their Goals

It is very important for you to recognize those that have set goals and them either achieved them or exceeded them. Not only does recognition, regardless of its form (public acknowledgment, certificate, bonus, or reward), honors the employee’s efforts, but also demonstrates to their fellow workers the importance of hard work and commitment that the dealership revels in.

  1. Encourage Employees To Identify Job-Specific Goals

Managers often have specific objectives in mind for each individual employee, but they are more likely to get more insightful answers if they inquire employees to identify goals. There is a big difference between encouraging employees to suggest goals of their own and imposing goals on them. When the goals suggested, align with the objective of the dealership, you, as a manager, can help to develop action plans to make them more attainable.

  1. Emphasize Attainable Goals

If a goal is too ambitious or just unattainable, then goal setting is likely to fail. All that unattainable goals achieve is burdening employees with then leads to frustration and a lack of motivation to further improve. A good tip is to set goals that are based on benchmarks that have previously been established. These have a high chance of being attainable by the employee.

  1. Work Closely With Those Who Fall Short

Not every employee with is successful in achieving and attaining their goals. Sometimes, no matter how hard they work or try, they simply cannot reach the goals set out for them. Ideally, as a manager, you should be assessing their progress periodically and stepping in to provide any necessary assistance.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where the deadline arrives and goals still have not been met, you should have an in-depth discussion with the employee regarding what went wrong. Followed that, there should be encouraged to try again or rework and address the stated objectives.

  1. Set Consistent Goals For Those With Similar Responsibilities

Goal setting has been known to be quite unsuccessful when it is showcased as a competition or content among your employees. Hence, try to avoid setting different goals for those employees that have similar roles and responsibilities. You should also try to refrain from encouraging any internal rivalries, which are often the cause of resentment for managers and diminished morale.

In the end, employee goal setting is at the heart of achieving and planning goals for your organization. Often times, it’s also the area that is either not effectively carried out or not placed on much importance.

With the help of our seven tips, your dealership can start to put the goals of your employees aligned with the goals of the dealership. It also doesn’t hurt your company reputation among prospective employees if it shows that you care about the professional growth of your employees such as much as the strategic goals of your business.


References: WillisTowersWatson, McKinsey&Company, ClearCompany 1, ClearCompany 2