Few skills have more impact on your team’s success than goal setting. A well thought out and clearly defined goal defines your expectations, provides a time frame and establishes accountability. Goals should inspire and scare your team members at the same time. If it does not force them to step outside of their comfort zone, you need to rethink your approach.

Wise leaders understand the “what’s in it for me” mindset.

They know the importance of establishing the employee’s career path goals early in their career. They structure their goals accordingly. Confidence makes the difference between those who dare greatly and those stay stuck. These leaders want their employees to have a track record of success. They provide training and opportunities to strategically grow their employees.

Your greatest challenge Is transforming new and lower performing employees into highly skilled assets for your team.

Goal setting coupled with training and accountability is the way to success. Every team member needs to contribute to the success of the team in at least one area. Otherwise, why employ them? Make certain your goals reinforce individual growth as well as working as a team.

Before talking to the employee, there are a number of important questions to ask. What areas does the employee need to improve to make them more of an asset?? How will they obtain these skills? Will a mentor be assigned to guide them through? What skills does the team lack and how do you plan to close the gap? Does it foster better communication and will it lead to a higher performing team? It is aligned with department and company goals? What milestone will you need? Should a milestone be missed or the employee is unable to perform, what is your back up plan? You need metrics to track progress — Is it easily measured? How will you get feedback from other employees?

The key to your success is creating SMARTE goals.

S – Specific – There is no need for ambiguity. Give them a desired outcome and framework to make it happen. Clearly establish your expectations. Make sure the employee knows what is at stake and why the goal is important.

M – Measurable – The right metrics make reaching a goal easier. Make sure the employee knows the rationale behind their performance metrics as well as when, where and how the data will be taken and analyzed.

A – Actionable – I believe in having two sets of goals – one set is want you need and the other is a “stretch” goal. Extraordinary effort should be acknowledged and celebrated. Your goals should encompass more than the bare minimum to get by or not get fired. Acknowledge the challenges the employees faces and divide them into milestones.

R – Relevant – The “why” behind the goal. The employee needs to accomplish the goal to better serve their team, make the company more competitive, save money, etc. There are reasons why every team member needs to improve. Share them.

T – Time constrained – The ability to handle stress and still perform is a critical. Every team member needs to learn it. Stress management takes time to develop and is learned when the stakes are high and it’s crunch time. Give your employees increasingly aggressive time frames to meet their milestones. Agility is a must for every company and it starts with responsive employees.

E – Elevate others – You need a high performing team where everyone helps and no one quits. Expect your senior employees to mentor your newer / least experienced employees. Every employee should help their fellow team members without your direction.

Every employee needs their own development plan.

Today’s employees are driven to be connected and to be contributing to their own success (as well as their team’s). Everyone loves to win and get constructive feedback. For best results, include the skills and demonstrated track record for advancing from one position to the next.

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