Empower your employees to take ownership of their own personal objectives

When attempting to maximise productivity and improve overall performance within a workplace, the place to start is getting your employees to set SMART objectives. Objectives serve as a way to keep employees on course and working toward an overarching company goal. They provide focus, direction, set expectations and also provide motivation for your workforce. Employees can only achieve and exceed expectations when they know exactly what is expected of them.

Despite this, according to a Gallup study on worldwide companies, only 50% of employees strongly agree that they know exactly what is expected of them. This is where SMART objectives can step in to facilitate matters.

By properly utilising SMART objectives, employees will feel better equipped to prioritise their workload and deliver results. It is worth noting that an important part of the process of creating SMART objectives is the act of putting employees in the driver’s seat. We are far more likely — and more driven — to accomplish goals we set ourselves. Using the steps below, you can help your employees develop the skills and confidence required to craft their own objectives.

Decide on a SMART definition

Before employees can write their own SMART objectives, they need to be given a SMART definition. Since George T. Doran coined the phrase in 1981, a number of variations have cropped up. At Clear Review, we recommend using the following SMART objectives definition:

S – Specific and Stretching. The objective needs to be as precise as possible. Avoid any ambiguities or confusion. An employee can’t simply be asked to ‘increase sales’, but they can be asked to improve sales of a particular product by a certain percentage in a given time frame. Objectives should also be stretching, or challenging, so employees are more motivated to achieve their goals.

M – Measurable. A good SMART objective should always set out what success will look like. This will make it easier to determine whether or not it has been achieved. The measure can either be quantitative or qualitative.

A – Achievable and Agreed. Though it is important for your employees to challenge themselves, objectives should all be realistically achievable. Objectives should also be agreed between the employee and their manager. The employee needs to know they have had a say in their own objectives, and the manager needs to know that the objectives are suitable and in line with company goals. Performance management software can be used with great effect to ensure both parties are happy and agree to the objectives.

R – Relevant. All performance objectives should be relevant to what the organisation is trying to achieve and support its overall goals. Without considering relevance, even objectives that are achieved may have no impact on the performance of the organisation, which flies in the face of what every effective performance management system aims to accomplish.

T – Time-bound. Employees should set target dates for when objectives are to be completed. This introduces a sense of urgency and it also allows managers to determine whether or not an employee is on track. Encourage employees to set ‘near-term’ objectives with a one to six month time frame rather year-long objectives. Near-term objectives can be achieved more quickly and are therefore more motivating. They are also less likely to become irrelevant as business needs change.

Explain the importance of SMART objectives to your employees

When asking your employees set SMART objectives, let them know your company takes objective setting seriously and why. Explain how appropriate goal setting can impact their performance; this will ultimately affect their career progression and chances for advancement within your company. When explaining the SMART objectives concept, point to the fact that they have been often cited by experts in the field as the most effective way of setting goals.

Employees should challenge themselves

We all get a sense of accomplishment when we have completed a task. This is why so many of us keep to-do lists and tick off activities as they are achieved. It makes us feel organised, productive and efficient. However, studies have shown this sense of accomplishment is greater — and our performance is higher — when we set ourselves particularly challenging goals. If the goals in question appear more difficult, we put more effort into completing them to standard and on time. Encourage employees to challenge themselves when creating their SMART goals. This can be an exciting way to get them to test their limits and to reach greater heights.

Conversely, employees should keep in mind their own limitations

Goals that are stretching and challenging are great, but warn employees of the dangers of setting goals that are completely unrealistic given the time and resources available. If you have any employees who have issues with perfectionism, this is certainly something to be cautious of. Over time, your employees will get a measure of their own limits and their rate of progress, but in the meantime, managers have to step in to ensure employees aren’t overtaxing themselves. This will only lead to objectives not being met, disappointment and frustration for everyone involved.

Use performance management software to track SMART objectives

Performance management software makes the whole process of setting, agreeing and tracking tracking of SMART objectives easy for everyone involved. Once SMART objectives are drafted by the employee, the manager can indicate whether or not the objectives are appropriate and discuss relevant changes. This makes the setting of goals a truly collaborative effort and gives parties a shared view of what has been agreed. Once objectives are formalised, everyone involved can track progress on these objectives and give feedback along the way, using the performance management software. This way, everyone remains up-to-date with successes and obstacles and managers can step in where employees needs extra support.

Next Steps

To find out how Clear Review can transform the effectiveness of your performance management system, book a personal demo right now via our online booking system.