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Goals blog post-1
Lisa BischoffFeb 28, 20234 min read

Three Strategies to Improve Goal Setting

Goals. Resolutions. Targets. Rocks. Intentions. Whatever your company may call them, knowing what you want to achieve in your role, in your department, and as an organization is a critical part of any business strategy. Over the years, several ways to measure goals have emerged and depending on the culture, sophistication, and operations of your business, some may encourage traction while others cause paralysis. 


A quick online search will yield dozens of different frameworks + formats to approach goal setting - Objectives and Key Results (OKRs); SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound); Management by Objectives (MBO); Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAG)...all of the acronyms, frameworks, formats, and ways to approach goal setting can seem overwhelming when deciding which is best for your company… but don’t forget that deciding on the method is just the first step. 


Regardless of the route your organization has chosen or is contemplating taking when it comes to goal setting, for any option to succeed, you need a strong foundation of communication, trust, and iteration when it comes to goal-setting strategy. 



When it comes to designing, implementing, and checking in on goals, two words reign supreme for communication style: early and often. Senior-level leadership should be very clear about sharing out any org-wide goals. This is essential to some frameworks that work from the top-down, like MBOs, but is important regardless of the methodology of your company. Without clear direction from leadership on where the company as a whole is going, every department - and every person - could be focusing their goals on different priorities and strategies - a recipe for disaster. Get everybody on the same page from the very beginning by clearly communicating company goals and priorities. Image of a circle with arrows pointing in various directions inside itImage of a circle with all arrows pointing to the right inside it

Source: EOS Model

In addition to executive leadership being responsible for communicating company and department goals, direct managers should be meeting consistently (weekly or bi-weekly) with each member of their team to discuss the status of individual and team goals. Celebrate the big wins by sharing news immediately after hitting a large goal and recognizing the individuals and teams who made it happen. 


If you’re a direct manager, make it a priority to have every individual on your team set personal development goals each cadence cycle. This may be working on a new skill, obtaining a certification, going to a virtual networking event, or finding a mentor. This goal should be something they specifically would like to achieve for themselves to better their career and should be prioritized as highly as any company-set goals they are working towards. Helping support your employees’ personal and professional growth will foster a stronger working relationship and will show your investment in their future. 



To state it simply - if your employees don’t trust you and there isn’t a sense of psychological safety on your team, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle to have them buy into wanting to work on professional, team, and company goals. 


Your team members need to feel they’re able to share with you when their goals are not on track to being met, are conflicting with other priorities and responsibilities, or are unclear in terms of what deliverable or outcome is expected. Invite all feedback, and when a team member shares they’re struggling with hitting a goal, ask open-ended questions to dig into the root cause. What is taking up more time than you feel it should on your calendar? What keeps getting deprioritized, and what keeps moving up your To Do list in terms of urgency? Who else would be able to support or assist you with some of these tasks? What are two things I can take off your plate this week to free up some space? What additional information do you need in order to gain clarity or direction? 


Similarly, be transparent when one of your goals isn't on target or when a larger department or company goal isn’t reached - use this as an opportunity to talk candidly with the team about what prevented the goal from being achieved and what will be done differently in the future.


One another quick way managers can improve trust within a team? Involve them when it comes to creating your team goals. Instead of single-handedly deciding on the focus and priorities of an entire group of employees, set a quarterly team meeting to discuss major deadlines and upcoming projects, cross-functional initiatives, and other important items on deck in the coming 90 days to decide as a team what to focus on and what needs to be prioritized. 



It’s also important to revisit goals periodically to ensure alignment. Things will change, inevitably, and you want to be flexible enough to adjust your goals as the needs of the business change. Create a consistent cadence to develop and review all goals. That being said, you don’t want to cause organizational whiplash by readjusting goals at the whim of every fire that comes across your desk each day. Consider starting with a quarterly cadence to revisit major goals and to decide if you need to reprioritize a goal or if it’s just a temporary distraction that has to be taken care of. 


Parting Words

Goal setting is an exciting part of building and growing any company. Clearly communicating our goals from the top down, providing opportunities for your team members to speak truthfully and vulnerably about concerns or struggles, and consistently checking in on goal attainment and alignment will ensure your approach is well-received and driving strategic decisions at every level.


Lisa Bischoff

Lisa is the Program Manager for HubSearch's Employee Retention and People Operations offering. Her background is in designing and implementing employee experiences and strategies that create highly engaged and happy team members.