The Best Way to Start the New Year? Set Meaningful Objectives

It’s a new year and for many, that means reviewing and setting new objectives. This can seem like a rudimentary task – of course you need to have a mission, goals, and objectives.  However, as successful managers know, it’s not feasible to simply have a goal in mind and expect to attain it.  You need a plan to get there – enter employee objective setting.

Why set objectives?

The obvious answer to this question is to achieve your goals and improve the company. But when we dig a little deeper, we realize that setting objectives is the backbone of workflow. Objectives should be specific and measurable, which allows for your employees to know exactly how, when, and what they need to accomplish to meet job expectations. Problems arise when objectives are vague.

How do you set objectives?

Your employees should be smart about the way they set objectives – don’t overload an unreasonable number of objectives into one period. Instead, identify where the most immediate attention is needed that will enable employees to reap concrete results toward company goals.  Three to five objectives at any given time is a good number – any more than that and too little attention may be paid to each objective.

Your employees should also set objectives on a consistent basis. Lots of managers have employees set quarterly objectives. Whether you’re preparing new objectives on a quarterly, monthly, or bi-annual basis, stay consistent so your employees can get in a good rhythm.  Also, ensure that your employee’s objectives are documented (and even better, shared), as this will result in greater likelihood that they will be achieved.

Keep it fluid

No matter how well your employees prepare objectives, remember that we work in a dynamic environment where issues are bound to pop up at least every once in a while. It’s better to extend the time frame for completion of an objective than to force your employees to rush and do a lackluster job. Be open and ready for a change in plans. Stephen Hawking said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Keep this in mind when you are presented with an obstacle.

Don’t forget about them!

Once your employees set their objectives, don’t let them forget about them!  Use your one-on-one meetings with your employees to discuss and evaluate progress toward meeting objectives, as well as understand how you can assist in removing obstacles that may arise.

Then, once objectives have been achieved, don’t let employees procrastinate in coming up with new ones — that’s a direct road to stagnation. You should always be thinking of what is coming next for the company, and how your employees can best work towards those goals.

It can be easy to overlook some of the simple things, but your job as manager is to not let details slip through the cracks. Setting objectives is the more than just a detail — it’s an outline that you and your staff need so that you can all succeed.

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