4 Ways To Make Sure Your Goals Still Make Sense

by Anita Bowness | Posted | Performance Management

4 Ways To Make Sure Your Goals Still Make Sense

So, you completed your goal setting process on time. All employees now have goals in the system, and many employees even followed your instructions around aligning the goals they’ve set to the organizational goals! Awesome!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Have you taken a look at those goals? Do some of them leave something to be desired? Some of the goals are probably great – others may be…less so.

We often rush to set goals to meet the deadline, thinking we’ve got some great (or at least good enough) proverbial “dots on the wall.” But when those goals are given that second look – we can’t help but cringe. What were we thinking?

Be it new information, a change in organizational priorities or goals, or just some time to reflect – sometimes we need a second chance to ensure we are working towards the right goals.

So, here are four things you should do to make sure that your goals are still in the right place.

Make sure goals are SMART

Let’s get this one out of the way first, because it should really be table stakes. Every single employee goal needs to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Relevant, and Timebound. You may have seen other versions of this acronym containing “Agreed Upon,” “Actionable,” “Realistic,” or others. I guess we could use “SMAAARRT.” I didn’t invent the acronym. I just believe in it.

Those great goals you set at the start of the year? Those might need a tune-up. Find out how from talent management expert @AnitaBowness #HRBlogs Tweet this

These are the core elements of a great goal. And if you take that second look and can’t explain why your goal is all of those things, then it’s time to either tweak things or take them back to the drawing board. For a complete explanation of SMART and how to use it properly (for us, we prefer in reverse order), check out my colleague Teala’s blog post.

Track your progress

Remember the M in the section above? Here’s where that comes into play.

We want our goals to be measurable because we want to be able to describe what “getting it done” looks like. If we know what “done” looks like, we can better keep track of what goals are on track, falling behind or (if you’re lucky) ahead of schedule! Peter Drucker’s famous quote comes to mind.

What gets measured gets managed.

We love tracking goals as a percentage around here. It’s a great way to quickly communicate progress to people that are less familiar with the ins and outs of what you’re doing and simply want an impression of how far into a process we are.

For example, you can see in this Talentspace dashboard view how far Aileen is progressing with her partner program and safe work environment goals:

In TalentSpace, our goal progress wheels on the right side of the main page give a great visual indication of goal progress.

Adjust and update goals up as needed

As we work to make our goals SMART-er, more information can come to light that can help us hone our goals to make them more specific, measurable, relevant, etc. Maybe we can add milestones and interim due dates to take our broad goals and chunk them into achievable steps to success. Maybe an organizational goal has been adjusted and the goal needs to be tweaked to better make the connection to the big picture.

1:1 meetings are a great opportunity to check in on goals and update things. When you talk about goals during these meetings (and you always should), think about things like whether or not the goals are still relevant to the organizational objectives, or whether or not the goal timeline is still realistic.

You could even formalize these goal check-ups on a monthly, quarterly, or bi-annual basis. This will ensure that goals stay up-to-date not just among your more active employees, but also those who might be considered “stragglers.”

In TalentSpace, you can access goals right from the 1:1 meeting agenda and make any needed updates:

Goals should not be set in stone. Make sure your talent management suite allows goals to be editable.

Be prepared to delete and start fresh

Sometimes things have changed so drastically that the original goal just doesn’t hack it. If you can’t turn a goal into some sort of SMART goal, or if organizational priorities or job responsibilities have changed- then it might be time to start with a fresh goal.

Keep in mind that this is not a bad thing. People can get discouraged when goals don’t work out, so it’s important that managers communicate these instances as a positive. This is not an instance of failure. It’s simply a matter of reorienting focus to better achieve what’s best for the organization.

In TalentSpace, you can use a formal goal setting process to give employees another chance in a structured way, or you can encourage them to set new goals as required throughout the year using the “Add Goal” functionality directly from the home page.

Go give your goals a tune-up

With all this great advice, what changes might you make to your current goals? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments section below.

Employee Goal Setting Template

We have created an employee goal setting template that prompts you for all the information you should discuss and document when setting goals with your employees.


Free Download
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Employee Goal Setting Template

We have created an employee goal setting template that prompts you for all the information you should discuss and document when setting goals with your employees.


Free Download


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