Ease Employee Fears And Accomplish Your Company’s Objectives

Use these techniques to ease the fear and tension that accompany establishing employee objectives.

Establishing individual employee goals and objectives can be stressful for many companies, especially if this is a new concept. Employees often resent being held accountable for their actions. Their perception is that these actions are punitive rather than intended as a mechanism to move the business forward.

While the establishment of individual goals or objectives is a critical process, managers should recognize they may be dealing with employees with varying degrees of experience in goal setting and implementation.

It is important for managers to understand that these gaps in experience can affect the ultimate success or failure of an individual employee. With this in mind, managers must take steps to help employees succeed, which is dependent upon their personal levels of experience. They must recognize that some employees will need more assistance than others. The key is to dedicate the time required for everyone to be successful in attaining individual goals.

This can be a stressful exercise for many employees. Though the process includes elements of an employee review, it is not an evaluation but a process of setting the employee’s direction for the future as well as coordinating individual goals with those of the business. The following techniques and strategies should be utilized to successfully establish individual goals:

Listen. Before beginning the process of establishing goals and objectives with an employee, the first step is to allow the employee to express his or her ideas and feelings. This discussion should establish a good mood and should focus on the positive aspects of the employee’s job. If complaints are brought up, managers should ask the employee for ways to correct the problem. By giving an employee the opportunity to resolve a problem, the discussion remains focused on the positive aspects of his or her job while empowering him or her to develop a realistic solution.

Be forward looking. Past performance will undoubtedly become part of the discussion. However, managers should keep the discussion focused on goals and objectives and avoid dwelling on past performance issues. This way the employee is focused on future performance and not mired in past problems.

Be candid. As managers move through the discussion of individual goals and objectives, they must be both candid and honest regarding the employee’s abilities to arrive at obtainable goals. This is a constructive gesture that helps uncover what the employee is capable of and expected to achieve.

Small steps. Individual goals can be overwhelming when viewed in their entirety. Managers can effectively ease employee fears by breaking long-term objectives into smaller, short-term targets that move the employee forward. Creating annual, quarterly and monthly goals that the manager and employee can agree on is the starting place; it is then the employee’s responsibility to break those goals into weekly and daily objectives. It should be noted that not all employees have the skills to effectively plan their own activities. Managers should review this procedure with their people and perhaps walk them through the process of taking a month’s goals and organizing them into weekly and daily tasks.

Secure agreement. Once both the employee and manager have developed a realistic set of goals and objectives and demonstrated how to plan the employee’s weekly and daily activities around meeting them, both parties should secure an agreement. The agreement should focus on the individual objectives and how they will be achieved.

Coordinate. Managers must make sure individual goals are aligned with the company’s goals, as well as with those of other employees. Failure to do so can result in employees working against each other rather than cooperatively toward accomplishing common goals and objectives.

Share. Managers are facilitators, so whenever they see an opportunity or need, they should take the time to share their knowledge and expertise with employees regarding how to best reach their individual objectives. Since goal setting can be a new experience, employees may accept a goal and not know where to start or how to get there. When managers share their expertise, the process becomes more meaningful and worthwhile.

Remain task-oriented. Throughout the goal-setting process, the climate should be warm, friendly and informal. Yet managers should ensure the process remains task-oriented and be aware that they will need each employee’s assistance to help attain their goals.

Commit to change. Managers should recognize establishing goals and objectives is a commitment to change. With this in mind, employees may be resistant to change and fear the consequences it may bring. Employees may also be reluctant out of a personal fear that they will be unable to attain their goals and objectives.

Review. Once the goal-setting process is complete, managers should review each individual objective with the employee. These goals should be committed in writing, with both the employee and manager receiving a copy for future reference.


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