4 Goal-Setting Mistakes Managers Make

by Srikant Chellappa Nov 19,2016

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Goals are a great tool to map out a path for the immediate future. They can help employees decide what they would like to focus on and what they would like to achieve. But goals don’t help employees alone. For managers too, goals are a great tool to track an employee’s progress and even measure performance.

When employees achieve their goals, it becomes easy for them and their managers to figure out what needs to be done next. Because, what was laid out is obviously working, there’s no need to go back fiddle with what works.

However, when goals fail, who’s to blame? The answer is nobody. Neither the manager or the employee is to blame. However, there are a few factors that can cause goals to fail. And these factors are usually mistakes that are made during the goal setting process.

So what are these goal-setting mistakes that managers should avoid? Here are a few.

Also Read: The Essential Guide To OKRs: Your Ultimate Tool To Setting Winning Goals

Setting Goals Too Late

It’s ideal to begin the goal-setting process at the start of the annual year and periodically revisit the goal at 3 month intervals. Alternatively, managers can even set goals for 2 or 3 month periods depending on the nature of the employee’s work.

Staying current is really important when it comes to goal-setting. Goals will be of absolutely no use if managers decide that they suddenly want to set goals when the year is already halfway done. A valuable chunk of time has already been lost and employees have spent  the better part of the year involved in a set routine. Setting goals too late does not even give employees a proper time-frame to work on achieving them, which in turn affects the goal’s progress.

Also Read: The Benefits Of Using OKRs in Large Organizations

Goals Are Too Attainable

Goals do not have to be crazy hard or extremely difficult. After all, you do not want to risk getting the employee so frustrated that they give up all together. On the other hand, neither should managers set goals that are far too easily attained. Goals are supposed to challenge employees enough that they push really hard to achieve them. Stupidly simple goals however undermine the whole idea behind the goal-setting process itself. Test your employees, push them, motivate them, but don’t make them feel like their work is a joke.

goal setting guide

Goals Are Not Reviewed

Setting goals and leaving them be is not how the goal-setting progress goes. When setting goals, everything might look fine on paper. However, when the employee and manager review progress on a goal frequently, only then is it possible for them to gauge if the employee is able to successfully work towards achieving the goal. It also helps them iron out any unexpected kinks that crop up.

Besides, checking in on goals has the added advantage of letting the manager know how exactly the employee is approaching the goal and how much of the goal have they achieved so far.

Goals Remain Unchanged

It is entirely possible that once an employee begins working towards achieving a goal, the objective of the goal itself will change. Managers must be willing to tweak goals, or completely rewrite them, if need be, in order to help an employee achieve a goal.

It might even so happen that once an employee peaks with respect to a goal, they might not find it that challenging to work with. In cases such as these, it’s always prudent to edit the goal to reflect a new challenge. Or even consider that goal closed and begin a new one.

It is impossible not to make mistakes when setting goals. After all, goals are just the blueprint for what you would like your employees to achieve. But as with many things, over a period of time, it becomes easier to set goals, when you and your employee know what the employee is capable of and whether they have the skills to achieve the goals that have been set. It is possible to make a mistake at the start of the goal-setting process and not figure it out well until the goal’s end date has been reached. In those times, instead of wringing your hands over it or trying to to figure out what went wrong, write it off as a loss, and just remember not to make the same mistake again.

Engagedly’s Goal module allows you to create goals easily, without any fuss, and allows you to check in and review them regularly as well. To see how our Goals module can help you, request a demo today!

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Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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