Management goal setting

Management goal setting and New Year’s seem to go hand-in-hand. We make our resolutions and set new goals. How many of us actually achieve them?

In a study conducted by YouGovAmerica from December 16-21, 2022, the findings report that 37% of Americans say they have a goal or resolution to accomplish in 2023.  Of this number only 87% say they are confident to accomplishing it.

As leaders we all know how important it is to establish goals.  One of the benefits of the TIGERS 6 Principles™ comprehensive system is to help managers and employees adopt new behaviors that improve trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success in the workplace.  Establishing goals to become more trustworthy, for example, helps guide your focus to sustain that goal’s momentum in all aspects of your life and in the workforce.

How to make your brain and human psychology work for you in achieving your management goals and resolutions

In thinking about the management goal you want to achieve, brain science researchers report that it is important to assess the future cost of doing nothing and placing that into your future outlook for achieving goal success. Then put the benefits of achieving the goal into your present.

This process takes advantage of human nature which tends to value things in the present moment much more than we value things in the future.

For example, if improving trust in your workgroup is your goal for the first quarter, the future cost of continued low trust could be continued loss of mid-career employees, poor employee engagement and insufficient productivity.  The benefits of achieving improved trust in your workgroup is deeper supportive work relationships, more grace and latitude to make a mistake and resolve it without damaging relationships and the laid groundwork to guide and develop employees.

This provides a way to focus on benefits while tracking and measuring progress in reduced future costs.  Let’s say your average organization-wide loss of mid-career employees is two per quarter and your exit interviews point to poor trust in leadership. Reducing that loss to one or zero by improving trust and avoiding the replacement cost of hiring new mid-career employees could save your organization as much as $50k per employee.  That is measurable. Considering your goal in this way provides a way to recognize incremental success, which feeds the desire for more success. 

More than theory, Edward Locke and Gary Latham (1990)’s goal setting research found that goals affect both behavior and job performance. They also help mobilize human mental and emotional energy which leads to a higher effort overall. Higher effort leads to an increase in persistent effort. This leads to success rewards in the intrinsic desire for more success.

The bottom line is that clear goals and appropriate feedback serve as a good motivator for both managers and employees.

Tips and strategies for successful management goal setting in organizations

Goal setting researchers conclude that when we are continually given goals by other people that we don’t truly accept, we will most likely fail. Accepting a goal and owning it is the key to success.

The following tips guide managers in achieving more team goals in the coming year:

  • Bring team members together to discuss and set goals.

Facilitate a session for goal setting where you are transparent about the current state of department affairs, costs and productivity.  Present the current costs and project the cost of doing nothing into the future as a team. Then discuss the benefits of setting goals to improve outcomes.  Identify specific, measurable, timely and achievable goals as a team and decide together what steps are required in accomplishing them.  This builds ownership and accountability for outcomes. It also creates a sense of community, a deeper sense of work meaning and an enhanced feeling of belonging, pride and satisfaction in the team. It also builds retention.

  • Design feedback and evaluation into goal achievement progress

When goals are accomplished, it feels good. This emotional benefit is a felt sense of satisfaction. When humans do not receive feedback or acknowledgement for goal achievements, satisfaction quickly goes away.  Ongoing lack of feedback makes any goal accomplishment meaningless.  In the workplace, continuous feedback shows employees that their work contributions matter. This goes beyond measuring a single goal and taps into an intrinsic human motivation to succeed.

  • Emphasize learning in goal and performance achievement

While goals can be used as a means to provide feedback and guide performance, the real benefit of goal setting is learning something new. When we learn something new, we develop new skills and this helps us progress in our careers. It is important to acknowledge this. Learning-oriented goals are also helpful when it comes to helping us discover life-meaning, which can help increase productivity.

Performance-oriented goals, which are typical in the workplace, force an employee to prove what he or she can or cannot do, which is often counterproductive. When the learning component is considered, learning curves and mistakes are recognized as part of the goal achievement. In this way, success is built. The outcomes beyond goal achievement are satisfaction on the part of employees and the willingness to learn, grow and explore. This improves an employees willingness to risk and stretch into the next goal.

It’s a new year and a new slate.  As a manager, when you establish team goals with your team, you help your team members understand how their individual work fits within the group and your department’s success. Team goals also create more opportunities for you to build trust and collaboration, which helps everyone achieve more with less in the coming year.

Care to dig deeper into this conversation?

Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

TIGERS 6 PrinciplesAbout the TIGERS 6 Principles™

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