The 2 keys to setting goals that help your employees succeed in the new year

Suzanne Lucas

Founder, Evil HR Lady

What types of goals do you set with your employees? Many are likely outcome-based goals: increase sales, develop new products, audit existing clients. These are all good things that shouldn’t be ignored.

But to really focus on achieving specific outcomes — and empowering your employees in their growth and development — both managers and employees must focus on skills-based goal setting.

For example, say you want an employee to sell more widgets. You could simply set a specific sales goal for a quarter or year and leave it at that. But what if instead you sat down with an employee and walked through top salespeople skills and discussed how to add or improve those skills?

The second method will still likely result in more sales — but the employee will also learn how to boost their capabilities in alignment with what the organization needs.

Understanding the skills it takes to perform any job isn’t easy.

Organizations can benefit from managers who develop the skills profiles of their teams. At the same time, employees stand to gain from being connected with learning paths to gain new skills or polish up existing skills. Setting actionable goals becomes more straightforward once both sides know the skills to succeed in a particular job.

Managers rely on skills to provide coaching

You want an employee to succeed in their current job. After all, that’s why you’ve hired them! But the very point of skills-based goals is to help people gain new skills they don’t currently have — and you can’t leave an employee alone to figure out how to do that. Here’s where managers are crucial.

When goal setting with employees, managers need a clear understanding of their employees' skills and what skills they might lack, both for individual employees and across their wider teams. This allows them to understand where employees can improve and fit into the organization’s wider skills profile to help fill any existing skills gaps.

With an understanding of what employees are hoping to achieve and what skills are required to get there, managers can help connect employees with the right resources or stretch assignments to grow into new roles. This could involve personal one-on-one coaching or mentorship programs, HR-based coaching, formal training classes or even degree-based courses.

Creating career pathways for employees

Beyond just careful coaching, employees need the specific tools to reach their goals — and move forward in their careers. Employees at the most agile organizations develop through a combination of receiving feedback and gaining exposure to development opportunities. Employees specifically want to grow skills that are linked to career development.

So when setting goals, it’s important to consider the path that employees see for themselves. What skills does your employee need to learn not just to succeed now but to do the next job that makes the most sense for their growth path?

Modern learning models that connect educational content to career growth opportunities are essential for helping employees meet their skills-based goals while providing a unique growth path.

People love to have a clear understanding of what they need to do to succeed in their careers and move to the next phase of their growth and development. By using skill-based goal setting in the new year, managers can support employees in growing skills to support the business while also helping them chart their career growth and development. It’s a winning situation all around.

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Cornerstone Performance

Whether you do performance reviews only once a year or have a robust, continual performance management process, with Cornerstone Performance, you can set goals, coach employees, receive feedback, guide development, and give recognition. Seamlessly link performance and skills data with internal learning opportunities to enable employee-driven, manager-supported growth. Because the best way to invest in business growth and achievement is by investing in the growth and achievements of your people with Cornerstone Performance.

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