How to Help your Staffers Set Realistic Goals for the Year Ahead

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you’ve been and where you’d like be. With 2020 just around the corner, I asked some HR/career experts how supervisors/managers can help their staff set ambitious yet realistic goals for the year ahead.

“Setting goals for the new year is a great way to hit reset and reflect on ways to improve both personally and professionally,” says Claudia Johnson, director of internal recruiting at Addison Group, a professional services firm specializing in consulting, staffing and recruiting, and executive search. “Managers play an important role in helping their teams set ambitious yet realistic goals on both an individual and group level.”

Johnson recommends setting goals as early as possible, then touching base regularly — weekly or monthly, perhaps — to help employees stay on track. That approach gives each employee a foundation, or baseline, that will enable them to see if they’re meeting their goals on a regular basis and allow them to work with their supervisor to adjust the timeline based on whether or not they’re meeting those goals too quickly or struggling to keep up, she explains.

Human resources consultant Matthew W. Burr, of a Burr Consulting, LLC, says discussing what is important for each employee to work on individually and how those goals align with the organization’s mission and vision is a good approach.

“Review 2019 goals and build on successes and areas of improvement,” Burr advises. “Provide an opportunity for the employees to have input into goal setting.” That process, he believes, “…should be fluid and reviewed individually for individual goals and with the team for team goals. The better the relationship is throughout the group the more open you can be with goal information.”

Johnson agrees that helping employees focus on individual goals in a way that merges the team’s overall goal is key.

“Not only will this hold team members accountable for their actions; it will motivate them to do their best work to assure they contribute to the team’s overall success,” she says.

There is, however, one note of caution to consider before delving into goal setting with team members, Burr adds.

“You run a risk of creating an overly competitive environment and potential sabotage if the goals are overly aggressive and demanding — so be aware of the culture and seek direct input and feedback,” he concludes.


(Article written by Kathleen Furore)