My next move: setting effective goals

I have been promoted to HR manager of a team of five. This month we will be conducting our annual performance appraisals. I want to ensure that I set my team some specific goals to achieve over the course of the year. Can you advise me how I can ensure the goals I set are as effective as possible?

It is encouraging that you recognise the importance of goal setting in motivating your team and helping to ensure they are performing to the best of their capabilities. The annual performance appraisal is an obvious time to set new goals and objectives. Setting goals and ensuring they are achieved are critical in helping to ensure your team meets performance expectations. As a consequence, managing a team that performs consistently should help to facilitate your own career progression.

The following guidelines should help you to ensure the goals you set are as effective as possible and achieve the desired results.

  • State each goal as a positive statement Focus your team’s efforts into something they want to do, rather than on something that you should avoid. “I will focus on improving my time management skills” is always better than “I will stop using my time inefficiently”.

  • Be precise Set a precise goal that includes starting dates, times and amounts, so that you can properly measure achievement. You will know exactly when individuals have achieved their goals, and reward them accordingly.

  • Set priorities for effective goal setting Attach priority levels to each goal you set. This helps the team avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps direct their atten-tion to the most important and to follow each in succession. By doing the most important first, each task becomes easier than the last. This encourages staff to move closer to their goal.

  • Write goals down This will help staff to crystallise goals and give them more force. It will also make them more able to keep up with scheduled tasks for each accomplishment.

  • Set realistic goals It is important to set goals your team can achieve. Push them and be optimistic, but always remain realistic. This will increase their chances of success, but always be aware of the next point.

  • Do not set goals too low People tend to do this where they are afraid of failure or where they simply donÍt want to do anything. You should set goals so that they are slightly out of workersÍ immediate grasp, but not so far that there is no hope of achieving them.

Mark Carriban
Managing director,
HR Recruitment Business,

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