Setting Up Goals for the New Year: A Guide for HR Managers

The New Year can be a great time to set goals for your HR team.

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Setting up Goals for the New Year: A Guide for HR Managers

With the New Year, many business owners and HR professionals are focused on what goals to set for themselves and their organizations. But with only 7% of individuals sticking to their New Year Resolution goals, is setting goals really worth it? Especially when HR success largely hinges on employee performance and manager buy-in?

One of the reasons so many failed to keep their goals is because their process is flawed. The goal setting process is more than just scribbling down past performance reviews and updating industry benchmarks. For a successful year, it’s important to follow the best practice of setting concrete, clear goals. And write them down.

In fact, according to a Harvard Business study, only 3% of their MBA graduates had their goals written down, and these same individuals earned up to 10x more than the remaining 97%.

From cutting employee retention to boosting productivity, there are likely several items on the HR leader’s to-do list. Most of these terms, however, are ambiguous. HR team members and employees alike need more than buzz words — they need an attainable goal set in clearly defined terms.

With a little strategic planning, any HR professional can make progress and achieve every objective. But before we can get into success, we need to understand why a team can fail to meet its objective.

Why company goals sometimes fail

At the end of the day, there are 3 main reasons why company goals fail:

  1. Lack of transparency. When companies fail to meet their goals, one of the key factors in this is a lack of visibility and transparency with other team members. There needs to be a clear vision and directives shared with both executive teams, entry-level employees, and everyone in-between. Without this view, many employees will feel lost in the process and not understand their role in achieving company goals.
  2. A gap in communication. Another reason why goals fail is that executive-level employees set goals for the entire company but fail to communicate those goals and coordinate the process with lower-level employees. This means individuals or teams end up working in the wrong direction, and end up receiving a poor performance evaluation — even if they are working hard.
  3. Lack of feedback. When setting company-wide goals keep in mind that every member of the company should play a part in the process. Make goal setting a collaborative effort and not just something that is dictated by management teams. When people are allowed to have a say in the creative process, it makes them feel like they are part of something larger than themselves. This, in turn, motivates them to work harder to achieve the set goals. Incorporating an open feedback loop should be at the top of every HR manager’s to-do list.

So, how can you set goals for the upcoming year, avoid these pitfalls, and reduce overwhelm? The answer is cascading goals.

The many benefits of cascading goals

Cascading goals are a hierarchical framework used to structure an organization’s goals.

The executive-level starts by setting strategic goals, and then those goals cascade down throughout the rest of the organization to help guide departmental and individual-level goals.

It’s important to structure yearly goals in this way because it helps with the overall goal alignment of an organization. When everyone from management to entry-level employees knows what the company’s goals are, they are easier to achieve.

Some other ways that cascading goals are beneficial include:

  • Helping organizations cut back on projects that are a drain on resources.
  • Coordinating efforts across departments more efficiently and in the same direction.
  • Ensuring employee understanding of how their efforts directly contribute to the success of the company.

Cascading goals are rigid enough to be closely aligned with a larger strategic goal but flexible enough to be easily adapted for each department.

In other words, cascading goals are rigid enough to be closely aligned with a larger strategic goal but flexible enough to be easily adapted for each department. Not only does this ensure that each team has a relevant goal, but it also gives every individual a chance to weigh in.

That said, every objective, from a performance goal to an individual goal, should follow the SMART goal rules. Basically, every objective should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example, you don’t want your goal to simply be “increase employee engagement.” Instead, you might want to write down that your team plans to increase employee engagement in the sales department by 10% by the end of Q1.

How to set cascading goals

When setting cascading goals you should start by establishing goals at an executive level.

Decide what your short and long-term goals for the year will be. It’s imperative that you ensure everyone on the executive level is on board with the plan before you introduce lower-level employees to the process.

When everyone has the same goal in mind it’s easier to enforce guidelines across the board. If your executive team has stated goals for the upcoming year, providing those visions to your team or department heads over the holiday is a good way for staff to consider the direction of the company and how best they can contribute to its success.

Set up meetings before the holiday season to review individual contributor goals in January, and then build them into your documented goals for the business.

Ideally, HR teams should set concise goals and try not to set too many at once. With fewer goals, it is easier to achieve tangible results and you are less likely to waste much-needed resources.

HR teams should set concise goals and try not to set too many at once. With fewer goals, it is easier to achieve tangible results.

How to maintain goals

When it comes to maintaining goals, communication is key.

Many employers will assume this means sending out weekly emails to each team member. However, many employees already find themselves overwhelmed by constant emails. It’s best to avoid corresponding about your goals through email.

Instead host meetings once per week or once per month. This will allow you to assess the progress of each team member and reiterate what the company’s goals are. If you have remote staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may want to use video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangout. This way meetings can be held no matter where an employee is located.

Another way to make sure quarterly or yearly goals are maintained is by providing incentives. You can offer incentives based upon performances or how fast employees meet their agreed-upon deadlines. When an incentive is offered, employees are more likely to go the extra mile needed to achieve company goals.

Setting goals for the New Year

Setting the right goals for your company can mean the difference between having a thriving organization and one that is plagued by chaos and failure. Implementing the proper strategy in place when approaching these goals ensures that there is alignment at every level of the organization. By following the cascading goal setting strategy setting and maintaining goals for the upcoming year will be much easier.

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