Advertising

Published on July 21, 2021

How To Set Employee Goals To Help Everyone Grow

Advertising
How To Set Employee Goals To Help Everyone Grow

With companies around the globe transitioning to in-office or hybrid workplaces, employees are bracing themselves for new (and maybe some familiar) challenges. During these times of transition, buoying employee motivation is critical for an organization’s continued growth. So, how do we ensure our employees’ well of motivation runs deep? It begins with employee goals.

But before we dive into strategies for setting them effectively, let’s take a closer look at why regularly setting employee goals is indispensable.

The Importance of Establishing Employee Goals

It’s well-settled that writing down your goals increases the likelihood of achieving them.[1] The simple act of committing an objective to paper helps to encode that objective in your brain. As a result, you’re more likely to actively work toward accomplishing it.

In the workplace, clear goals give employees a means of objectively measuring their progress. That way, if a task or project isn’t advancing fast enough, the employee can step back to determine how to get back on track and, if need be, management can intervene.

But you might be wondering: why is employee motivation so critical right now?

The year 2020 was a turbulent year, to say the least. More recently, many people are experiencing what bestselling author Adam Grant calls “languishing”—a sense of stagnation or emptiness. You’re not completely burned out, but you’re not exactly thriving either.

As Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, explained in the Times,[2]

“Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work.”

The risk of low motivation at the workplace looms larger than ever. For your company, that can mean higher turnover, low engagement, and a drop-off in productivity.

Advertising

With those considerations in mind, here are some expert-backed strategies for setting employee goals and recharging motivation.

1. Connect Them to the Larger Mission

You know the phrase: can’t see the forest for the trees. This notion—that we become so focused on our own tasks that we forget to pause and consider the bigger picture—is not uncommon, especially in fast-paced, growing organizations. In fact, before I launched my webform company, JotForm, I experienced it firsthand. Working as a fledgling developer, management rarely stepped in to remind us how our work contributed to the larger mission.

Employees siloed in their own personal missions run the risk of losing a sense of purpose—and when that happens, motivation is bound to take a nosedive.

On the other hand, when employees understand how their day-to-day contributes to an organization’s larger mission, their motivation to help achieve that mission is continually replenished. This, in turn, helps the entire organization to grow and hit new benchmarks.

So, how can managers connect the dots?

Routinely discuss your organization’s goals and elaborate how your employees’ objectives contribute to those goals. As Amy Gallo writes for Harvard Business Review, “No matter what level the employee is at, he should be able to articulate exactly how his efforts feed into the broader company strategy.”[3]

The keyword is “routinely” because as your company grows and business needs change, your company’s goals will inevitably evolve in tandem.

2. Be More and Less Specific

You’ll often hear leaders talk about taking a hands-off approach—that is, giving employees the autonomy to figure out how to achieve their objectives. And while that is true—research has shown that autonomy increases engagement—there is a caveat to making this strategy even more effective.[4]

Specify less, but also, specify more. What does that mean? Go ahead and give employees autonomy but first, spell out explicitly (i.e., specify more) their targets.

Advertising

Harvard Business Review authors elaborate:[5]

“This means we need to be very explicit with employees about how we measure success and the metrics that drive it.”

That’s what we aim for at JotForm—being highly specific about our targets and then getting out of our employees’ way so they can figure out how to get there. More times than not employees wow us with their innovative thinking.

How to Specify More and Less?

To succeed at this paradoxical state of more/less, the HBR authors recommend encouraging exploration—experimenting and risk-taking—and connection. Create a physical and social workplace where employees are regularly interacting and exchanging ideas.

For example, to encourage exploration, a leader might applaud failures and underline the teachable moments. That’s not to say that poor or lazy work is acceptable but sometimes, well-meaning failures hold valuable lessons.

At JotForm, we hold weekly demo days—similar to the idea of hack weeks, demo days are creative sprints during which our employee teams are welcomed to explore their boldest ideas without necessarily churning out a work product.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg famously said,[6]

“Okay, is this going to destroy the company? Because if not, then let them test it.”

To encourage connection, you can reimagine the office to make it more conducive to casual interactions—an open office layout or an onsite cafeteria with communal tables.

Advertising

By exploring and connecting, employees are more likely to find creative solutions to achieve their goals.

3. Enforce Accountability

Speaking of failures, when employees fall short of their objectives, it’s important to peel back the next layer of the onion and determine where they went awry.

Linda Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and co-author of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, tells Harvard Business Review:[7]

“Hold people accountable. You can’t say ‘Gee, that’s too bad.’ You need to figure out what went wrong and why.”

It’s important that employees understand that there are stakes involved in goal-setting. Otherwise, the entire practice will be going through the motions with little or no impact.

4. Consider Reframing Objectives

It might seem surprising, but subtle changes in the way we spell out a goal can have a big impact. According to recent research, how you frame a goal can affect the likelihood of whether you reach that goal. Specifically, framing a goal in a way that seems inconsistent with that goal can lead to setting more ambitious targets.[8]

What does that look like in practice?

Let’s say an employee wants to reduce their distractions at work. Framing the goal as “I will not web browse or use social media,” will be more effective than “I will work undistracted for 6 full hours today.” It turns out that the negative feelings like guilt and shame associated with failing to live up to the goal-inconsistent framing are even more powerful than the same for the consistent framing. This will ultimately lead the employee to set higher goals.

What’s more: we know that employees are responsible for creating their own goals. But managers can be proactive about helping them in the goal formation stage.

Advertising

A little language tweak can lead to significant results, pushing employees to go the extra mile, and on an organizational level, the impact can be exponential.

5. Recognize Significant Goals Achieved

While it would be impossible for leaders to offer a pat on the back for every objective met, accomplishments that move the needle for your company—breaking into a new market, reaching a new sales target, etc.—merit recognition.

According to Hiver founder Niraj Ranjan Rout, leaders should spread employee feedback and recognition democratically, rather than showering it on select “star” employees. Rout writes:[9]

“Reward performers modestly and reward them all! People who are recognized and appreciated perform better.”

That means rewarding everyone from the intern to senior leaders. And recognizing employees doesn’t require a formal banquet either. Even informal recognition, like congratulating an employee via a company newsletter or offering a “job well done” at the water cooler, can give a colleague a much-needed motivational push.

Final Thoughts

Setting employee goals helps not only the employees but the whole company as well. Employee motivation is a driving force toward a company’s success, and that’s exactly the aim of setting employee goals. Hopefully, as your company navigates the coming months, these strategies will help your employees to set and achieve goals that boost momentum for the entire organization.

More Tips on How to Motivate Your Employees

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aytekin Tank

Founder and CEO of JotForm, sharing entrepreneurship and productivity tips at Lifehack.

How to Start Your Own Business in 2022 (Step-by-Step Guide) How to Increase Attention Span How to Increase Attention Span If You Have a Distracted Mind 5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block smart objectives What Are SMART Objectives? (And How to Use Them) How To Set Employee Goals To Help Everyone Grow

Trending in Entrepreneur

1 How To Stay Motivated As You Build Your Business 2 12 Super Productivity Secrets Every Entrepreneur Must Know 3 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2022 4 What Does It Take to Be an Entrepreneur? (From Mindset to Skillset) 5 How to Start a Successful Business and Increase Your Profits

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 13, 2022

15 Best Places for Expats to Live (And Why)

Advertising
15 Best Places for Expats to Live (And Why)

Many of us dream of living abroad but can often be scared to make such a big change to our routine lifestyles and leave our home countries behind. Daunting as it may be, living abroad can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor and can give you the quality of life you have been looking for.

From a warmer climate to a more easy going way of life, there are many foreign countries favored by expats who stay for a long time – and sometimes forever. Taking into consideration livings standards, opportunities and social aspects, here are our top 15 best places to live as an expat and why.

1. Thailand

A hot spot for expats, the ‘land of smiles’ as it’s commonly known offers expats a tropical climate, a huge array of sandy beaches and islands to explore, and a rich culture. The cost of living in Thailand is extremely low, and when combined with the friendly tax system means that disposable income can be very high.

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, offers expats great employment opportunities.

2. Switzerland

Another popular destination for expats, Switzerland offers exciting employment packages and a high standard of living. It’s great for those who love the outdoors, as there are many beautiful lakes, mountains to hike in and skiing in the winter. The school standards for expats are also excellent, making it appealing for those with children. English is also widely spoken so day-to-day living can be stress free.

Unemployment in Switzerland is low and expats moving here don’t need to worry too much about finding a job before they arrive.

3. Australia

Many foreigners who visit Australia don’t want to leave as it offers a great quality of life, beautiful beaches and a warm climate. Making friends in Australia is easy too, due to the lack of language barrier and the large number of expats who already live here. Australia is a great place to move to if you have children because of its wide range of schooling possibilities and recreational outdoor activities.

Advertising

Low population levels and high quality of life are two of the main reasons expats choose Australia as a place to live.

4. Singapore

Expats in Singapore can benefit from generous financial packages, great career opportunities and low tax rates. Although education is expensive here, it is rated one of the top places for raising children abroad due to the quality of the education system and the array of schools.

Public transport such as buses and MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) are cheap and very reliable in Singapore.

5. South Korea

South Korea offers expats a unique range of opportunities and a very different way of living. Jobs for expats are easy to find and usually very well paid, with apartments provided by the employer on the most part making living costs even lower. There are also many tight-knit expat communities in South Korea, making it easy to socialize and meet new friends. The excellent education system is also a pro for families wanting to move to this culture-rich country.

South Korea has a cheap public healthcare system and offers great medical care, with most doctors speaking English.

6. New Zealand

New Zealand is constantly on the lookout for skilled workers to expedite to the country – especially those under the age of 30 – and skilled migrants can be granted a stay for up to five years. It offers a good climate and although income levels can be lower than other countries, quality of life is high, with its awe-inspiring scenery, low crime rate and state sponsored healthcare.

New Zealand is great for those looking for a laid back and active outdoors lifestyle.

Advertising

7. Canada

Its national healthcare system, friendly locals and very high quality of life are just a few of the reason expats choose Canada as a place to live. It’s very welcoming to expats and skills shortages encourage foreigners to move here in order for the country to grow economically. It’s easy for expats to feel comfortable quickly in Canada due to its multicultural environment.

Canada was largely unaffected by the economic crisis, making it a very popular country for expats.

8. Qatar

Qatar is becoming increasingly popular among expats with an estimated 500 new arrivals every day. The salaries are generous and are tax free too, making disposable income very high. Car and housing allowances are part of many remuneration packages, and education for your children and airfares are often included.

The cost of living is lower in Qatar than in other UAE countries but salaries can still be just as generous.

9. Hong Kong

Where east truly meets the west, this bustling island has a population of over seven million people. If you’re looking for a fast-paced environment and an active nightlife, Hong Kong is definitely the place to be. Benefits for expats include its advanced healthcare system and elevated standards of schooling for children, along with great employment opportunities. The cost of living in Hong Kong can be high, so trying to negotiate a housing allowance with your employer can be beneficial.

Hong Kong is great for those looking for high incomes and career advancement.

10. Japan

As an expat destination, Japan offers a rich culture and a chance to experience a very different day-to-day life. Currently around two million expats live in Japan, and in the larger cities such as Tokyo a large portion of the population speaks English. English speakers are also in demand and there are a large number of opportunities for language teachers, especially in the capital.

Advertising

Japan offers a high standard of living for expats and a good education system for those with children.

11. Spain

Spain is a very popular destination for expats due to the high temperatures and year-round sunshine. EU residents don’t require a visa to work here, meaning the move can be a lot easier. Skilled foreign workers also continue to be in demand with jobs such as engineering, customer service, skilled trades and language teachers widely available.

A huge 14% of Spain’s population are expats from a variety of foreign countries.

12. Dubai

Two of the main attractions of moving to Dubai are the tax-free salaries and the warm climate. Some of the most popular jobs for expats are in construction, banking, oil and tourism. You can also enjoy a busy social life in Dubai as the expat community is thriving. Although it can be an expensive country, the tax-free salary means you experience a higher quality of life than in other countries.

You will need a work permit, residence visa and an Emirates ID card to live in Dubai as an expat.

13. Germany

Germany is one of Europe’s most populous countries, with around 82.4 million people. It’s a lively and inexpensive country to live in as an expat, and if you have children the education system is great and healthcare is to a high standard. An estimated 250,000 expats live in Germany currently, with the numbers rising every year.

If you are already an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa to live and work in Germany.

Advertising

14. The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a great place for expats who love the outdoors. Cycling is one of the main modes of transport and looking after the environment is widely recognized. There are a lot of English speakers in the Netherlands too, but learning the language can work to your advantage and make day-to-day life that little bit easier. Skilled expats can also benefit from a tax-free allowance equivalent to 30% if they meet the correct criteria.

It is often more important to be able to speak fluent English than to speak Dutch when looking for employment in the Netherlands.

15. China

China offers expats great employment opportunities with little competition. Those who embrace the culture and decide they want to live in China long term can see a host of employment opportunities as its economy is growing rapidly every year. Economists predict it will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy by 2018. China also offer expats low living costs and high disposable incomes, which is why many look to live here for a higher quality of life.

Shanghai and Beijing are the most popular destinations for expats who live in China.

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Read Next