Target Setting

Target Setting: How to increase commitment and ownership

A productive target setting conversation can make the difference between targets that are owned and actively pursued versus those that are merely set.

Yet sadly, target setting conversations are often poorly conducted and yield very little commitment and ownership.

In this article we will explore target setting conversations; what they are and how to make them more productive.

What is a target setting conversation?

Before we explain what it is, lets be clear about what it is not... A target setting conversation is not a monologue where a manager tells an employee their targets.

A target setting conversation is a collaborative conversation that defines clear goals and expectations for the upcoming period and maps out a plan to achieve them.

What goes into a productive target setting conversation?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to target setting, that said, here are some of the key elements for a productive target setting conversation:

Manager Preparation: Review the employee's performance over the previous period prior to the actual conversation. Ensure there is clarity on the organisation's goals and priorities. Identify areas for improvement and development.

Employee Preparation: Reflect on personal performance over the past period prior to the actual conversation. Recognise achievements and challenges. Consider career goals and aspirations. Identify strengths and areas for improvement.

Frame the Conversation: Begin the conversation on a positive note. Explain the importance of goal setting for personal and organisational growth. Explain that the targets belong to the employee, and as such, the employee needs to be responsible for defining the targets and plan. Explain that the manager's role is to facilitate the process.

Review Past Performance: Discuss achievements and challenges from the previous period. Highlight how the employee's achievements contributed to the team and or organisation's success. Discuss challenges or areas that need improvement.

Discuss Objectives & Goals: Discuss personal and organisational objectives and goals. How does the employee's objectives and goals align to the team and or organisations objectives and goals?

Explain that there should be a clear purpose behind each goal!

Define Aligned SMART Goals: Define goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). Collaboratively set clear and specific objectives are aligned to the employee's personal motivations and career aspirations.

  • What would a good outcome look like?
  • What would a really good outcome look like?
  • How do these goals contribute to the team or organisations success?
  • How do these goals contribute to your personal success?

When goals are personally meaningful, employees are more likely to take ownership and put in the effort to achieve them.

Flexibility & Adaptability: Highlight that circumstances may change, and some goals may need to be adjusted. Foster an environment where adjustments can be made collaboratively without compromising the overall objectives.

Mutual Agreement: Ensure both the manager and the employee are in agreement with the established goals. Confirm understanding of expectations and success criteria.

Empowerment & Autonomy: Provide employees with the autonomy to determine the best ways to achieve their goals. This empowers them to take ownership and fosters a sense of accountability.

  • The overall targets should be broken down into smaller targets
  • Milestones and follow ups should be put in place

Documentation: Document the agreed-upon goals and action plans. Keep a record of the conversation for future reference and performance evaluations.

Regular Check-ins: Schedule regular check-in meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and adjustments. These meetings reinforce the commitment to goals and allow for any necessary course corrections.

In Summary

A productive target setting conversation can make the difference between targets that are owned and actively pursued versus those that are merely set.

The key to a productive target setting conversation is open communication, collaboration, and a focus on growth. Targets are never fixed in stone, so you need to ensure you revisit and update goals as needed to adapt to changing circumstances.

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