HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Initial Goal Setting

In order to get where you need to go, you need to know where you’re going. Every person in your organization needs to know where the company is going. Here’s how to align your employee’s goals with those of your business.

What Is Initial Goal Setting?

The term initial goals refers to the foundational goals of the company. This includes the company mission, large goals to implement that mission, and key goals of smaller departments, locations, or teams. However, initial goal setting is done on an individual basis in order to align each employee's personal goals with the overarching goals of the organization. Initial goal-setting sessions typically occur as early as onboarding. Overall, this is a method of fostering the growth of a healthy, mutually beneficial partnership between the staff and the organization by collaboratively building strategies around answering these two questions:
  • How can the company help the employee meet their personal goals?
  • How can achieving the employee's goals advance the main goals of the organization?

Why Is Initial Goal Setting Important?

Every new employee needs a solid understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish as a part of your organization. Initial goal-setting contributes to:
  • Drive and motivation. A large piece of how hard one runs is knowing where the finish line is. When a goal is effective, it gives the employee a sense of purpose and possibility. These all contribute to increased focus and drive.
  • Efficiency. When individual employee goals are in line with the goals of the company, everyone is aiming for the same thing. This improves the efficiency of the organization.
  • Engagement and retention. A good company mission should be inspiring. However, the company mission isn’t what keeps employees. A driving factor to keeping employees invested and loyal to the company is how invested and loyal the company is in them. Initial goal setting sends that message loud and clear. Rather than just telling the employee that they're important, this proves it with action by expressing a vested interest in the employee's personal success.

Best Practices for Initial Goal Setting

In order to motivate our employees to best meet the company’s goals, we must first meet our employees where they are. Here are several ways to do that.

Focus on Mutual Benefit

Naturally, we want the goals set to drive the company’s goals forward. That is the motivation behind initial goal setting. However, when setting initial goals with your employees, the message you want to send is not “What can you do for the bottom line?” but rather “How can we help one another build a successful organization?” Their employment with your company is a mutually beneficial agreement. During an initial goal-setting session, dig into their personal goals, line them up with the company goals, and brainstorm how they align. On a side note, retaining a good employee always lines up with the aims of the organization. If helping your employees reach their personal goals shows the company’s interest in them, it is typically reciprocated and reflects on retention.

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.). If any of these elements are missing in goal setting, the end result is too ambiguous to understand when it’s been accomplished, too outrageous to even reach for, or doesn’t benefit them directly (so it doesn’t motivate them directly).

Map Out Potential Career Paths

Once an understanding of initial goals has been set, how these goals are accomplished should always involve a career path. In fact, according to a study done by Pew Research in 2021, 63% of respondents reported leaving a job because there were no opportunities for advancement. The aim of mapping out potential career paths is not to make one concrete path they can take, but rather to point out that there is plenty of room for them to move up, and that moving up lines up directly with their personal goals.

How to Perform Initial Goal Setting

As early as orientation, schedule a goal-setting interview. This is where you and your employee (you can involve direct management as well) can dig into how the company and the employee can grow this new mutually beneficial relationship.

Step 1: Identify Long-term Goals

A long-term goal is defined as something your new hire wants to accomplish in the future. These are not life goals, as they do not take a lifetime to complete, but they do take several years. For example, getting a Bachelor’s degree would be considered a long-term goal.

Step 2: Create Short-term Goals

Once long-term goals have been established, break them down into short-term goals. A short-term goal is a more bite-sized goal that moves you closer to achieving a long-term goal. For example, completing a college course would be a short-term goal.

Step 3: Brainstorm How the Company Can Help the Employee Reach Those Goals

Identify one or more ways the company can support the employee in meeting each goal. For example, if an employee has a goal is to get out of debt, connect them to your company’s financial well-being coach, inform them of what bonuses are up for grabs, and help build a career path towards earning more income.

Step 4: Follow Up

Once these goals have been established, you can document the new employee's initial goal-setting. Based on their personal preferences and the timeline of their short-term goals, schedule follow-ups to discuss their progress and how the company can best support them (so that they can best support the company).
Kayla Farber

Kayla Farber

Kayla is the Chief Innovation Officer at Hero Culture, where the passion is to create company cultures of retention using the power of personality.
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