The new year is here, and with that comes goal setting for lots of employers. Businesses will be thinking through what they want to achieve and develop in the next calendar year. Setting high quality goals for each employee is really important – it helps employees understand what is expected of them and it helps managers to track and measure employees performance in a fair and consistent way. 
Here are our top tips to help you with your goal setting: 
1. Set SMART goals 
SMART goal setting guidance has been around for quite a few years, and we think it’s still a useful tool when thinking about goals for your employees. It stands for: 
Specific – make the goals specific to the individual. Avoid broad brush, “do your job” type goals. You want to be as clear as possible to avoid confusion or interpretation about what a particular goal meant. 
Measurable – a good quality goal should always set out what success looks like – how will you know when you have achieved it? Quantitative goals are always easier to measure, but you can always have qualitative measures too. For example, provide high quality service as measured by feedback from XXXXXX people. 
Attainable – you want to set goals that will stretch the individual but are also achievable. There is no point in setting a set of goals which are utterly unrealistic. This will lead to a demotivated and discontented employee who won’t perform at their best. 
Relevant – all goals that are set should be relevant to the success of your business. It might help to have some company goals and provide that line of sight for employees to see how their goals contribute to the success of the business. 
Time-bound – all goals should have a deadline to achieve them. It can be helpful to have mini-milestones along the way set out, so that everything isn’t based on the year end and can be tracked through the year. 
2. Aim to have around 5-8 goals with ideally one focused on personal development 
It’s really important not to overwhelm someone with what they need to achieve, so keep the number of goals small. It’s also good practice to try to have one goal which focuses on the individual development of the person too. 
3. Employee and Manager should agree the objectives 
This process works best with the input from both the manager and the individual. It helps if both manager and employee allow time to give goals some thought and then come together for a meeting to discuss. Some managers find it helps to have the discussion directly after concluding an individual’s performance review. The important thing is that both manager and individual agree and there is a shared ownership of the objectives. 
4. Use them during the year 
Don’t just put them away in a draw to dust off at the end of the year. As you meet during the year, keep referring back to the goals and checking on the individual’s progress. Be flexible – if it becomes clear that a goal isn’t right or the direction has changed, then change the objective mid-year. 
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