Goals

5 Ways to Set Up Your Employees for Success in 2015

With the stress of the holiday season behind you, it’s time to start thinking about how to truly make 2015 your most successful year yet.

Achieving ambitious goals starts with making a game plan. You’ve probably set lofty financial goals for your organization, but to make these a reality, you must rally the support of your entire team.

By involving your employees in the goal-setting process, you can align their goals with overall company objectives. And with that collective focus and accountability, you can set your company up for unparalleled growth.

Here’s how you can equip your staff for success in 2015:

Related: 5 Secrets Every Good Boss in the Modern Workplace Knows

1. Discuss personal goals alongside professional aims.

Achieving fulfillment and overall happiness in the workplace is crucial to your employees’ productivity. Economists at the University of Warwick carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. They found that happiness makes people about 12 percent more productive in the workplace.

Listen closely to employees' personal goals and make an effort to help your staff achieve them.

For example, members of my team cited weight management and exercise as major personal goals one year. My company then arranged for its employee benefits to include a gym membership and health allowance.

Without employees openly discussing these personal goals, managers wouldn’t have initiated this program. Staffers' appreciation and motivation has only increased as a result.

2. Connect employee aims to larger company objectives.

Your employees want to know how their work contributes to larger company strategies, so show them the big picture.

Share the company’s overarching goals for the year and discuss how staffers' individual efforts can help accomplish this mission.

Tie everything back to the role employees' goals play in reaching the company’s overall success, whether it’s realizing certain production numbers, leadership development or other measures. Be sure staffers know how integral they are.

Related: 6 Surefire Ways to Realize Goals

3. Set challenging yet achievable targets.

The most effective goals are challenging but attainable. When discussing goals with team members, emphasize the importance of setting aims worth achieving. Make sure you ask, “Will these goals make a difference to both you and the company as a whole?”

On the same note, setting overly ambitious goals can be detrimental to morale. Employees might find that they’ve created seemingly impossible goals, causing them to lose hope and motivation. The key is to strike a balance between challenging and achievable 

4. Write the goals down.

The act of writing goals down on paper may seem elementary, but a 1979 Harvard study made the benefit clear. In his book What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack discussed research in which Harvard MBA students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

The results revealed that only 3 percent had written goals and plans, 13 percent had goals (but not written down) and 84 percent didn't have any objectives at all.

Fast-forward 10 years to when these individuals were interviewed again. The former students who had goals but didn’t write them down were earning twice the amount as those who had none. The few who had written down their goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined.

5. Create a plan for success and stick to it.

Once goals are set, ask employees to explain how they plan to meet them. Encourage them to break down the goals into tasks, set interim objectives (especially for a large or long-term project) and periodically monitor progress. Writing down milestones on a calendar will help them visualize the path to success.

And by staying on top of employee progress, you can extinguish troubles early on.

By setting goals at the beginning of the year, you create a long-term vision for the company and instill motivation in your employees. It will help all players involved organize their time and resources and ultimately result in a more fulfilling, productive year.

Related: Essential Tips for Managing Employees Who Don't Aspire to Be Leaders