Goal Setting Tip Sheet for Managers

TIP: Participating in goal-setting helps to increase an employee’s motivation to achieve the goals. When possible, rather than providing a finalized list of goals “to” an employee, ask the individual to create a draft of the goals, develop your own ideas for goals (e.g., sketch out a few), and then work with the employee to more clearly define them.

Assemble your thoughts in preparation for the meeting. You may find it helpful to complete a draft, but if you do so, avoid sending the message that these are "the goals." It is best to actively involve the employee in the process of setting goals. As you work through the worksheet with the employee, consider the following:
  • Goals. Draft goals that reflect the team's, department's, division's and institution's needs as well as the individual's. Think about how this employee can contribute to the institution's success. Consider not only their existing position, but, if appropriate, how they might begin to be developed to enhance their effectiveness for future position(s). Make sure the goals are challenging and will stretch the individual, yet are feasible.
  • Measures. Start with measures that are readily accessible, as long as they are relevant. Consider information that's collected by the team, the department, the division, and the institution. Make sure existing measures are relevant.
  • Deadlines. In establishing deadlines, your role as manager is to ensure that the timing reflects the priorities and needs of the department/division/institution.
  • Obstacles. This is one area that is often overlooked in goal setting. It may be difficult for the individual to identify potential obstacles. To help identify obstacles, ask, "So, what might prevent you from being able to accomplish this goal?" Be prepared to offer assistance in removing obstacles that are identified to help the employee attain her goals.
  • Review the overall list of goals, timing, etc. Once you and the employee have worked together to establish an initial draft, be sure to review the overall list of goals to determine that the set of goals and timing are sufficiently challenging yet realistic; that there is sufficient support available to overcome obstacles; and that the set of goals is aligned with the organization's and person's needs (e.g., no key areas are neglected). Work to modify the list as needed.
  • Monitor progress/set goals. Establish a time frame for reviewing progress on the goals. A regular review (e.g., quarterly) allows the individual to make adjustments as necessary. Even if measures aren't available at that time, you can still ask the individual how they perceive their performance on each goal.
  • Celebrate successes in accomplishing goals. Revise/add/delete goals as necessary to reflect team/department/division/institution priorities.