It is common for employee goals, set as a part of an annual performance review, to be forgotten during the year. Goals get written down on a paper form that is filed away, and only consulted when it's time for the next performance appraisal. An employee's daily work and priorities are then easily affected by the crisis of the day, new requests or changes in direction. The result: individual, departmental and organizational goals are often not achieved.
So how do you drive accountability for goals throughout your organization and keep employees productive and focused on the right things?
Encourage SMART employee goals
In order to engage employees and foster accountability, organizations need to have their employees set SMART goals — specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented and time-bound. But remembering to capture all these elements in the right level of detail can be challenging.
Make it simpler for managers and employees by providing specific fields that prompt them for all the right information, right on your goal setting or performance review form. It can also help to provide an example of a SMART goal..
Managers and employees creating a new goal are then visually reminded to provide a title, detailed description, milestone, method for measurement, as well as start and due dates.
Help with prioritization
Everyone deals with juggling priorities. When faced with competing priorities, employees often struggle to know which goals are most important, and to focus their time and efforts effectively.
So why not have managers assign a weight to each goal and competency on the employees' performance appraisal forms. The weighting helps employees clearly understand the corporate value of each. Prioritizing and decision making are easier in this context.
Reminder to self...
Ever wish you could get someone to remind you about goals, milestones and due dates?
Why not setup automated email reminders and other periodic memory jogs for managers and employees?
Align employee and organizational goals
Research tells us that one of the keys to employee accountability is helping employees understand how their daily work contributes to organizational success. Employees need to know that their work and efforts matter.
You can give employees this all important context by first setting and communicating high-level organizational goals, then tasking employees with establishing individual goals that directly link to and support these. Employees then clearly understand how their individual goals contribute to the achievement of organizational goals. This increases both their sense of accountability and contribution.
Monitor progress on goals
Accountability and monitoring tend to go hand in hand — it's human nature to be more mindful of completing a task when we know someone is watching and cares about our progress, and when we can see the larger effect of our actions.
So make sure you have "reporting" processes in place whereby managers regularly check in on the status of employee goals, and report that status up the management chain. The check in provides an opportunity to identify development needs, as well as adjust goals that are no longer SMART or aligned with organizational goals. But it also drives up accountability by reminding every employee that someone cares about their work and is monitoring their progress.
Similarly, you should have a mechanism for monitoring and communicating progress on organizational goals. Research by Bersin by Deloitte shows organizations that review their goals quarterly (or more), rather than annually, are more effective at managing costs and have better financial performance.
Read how Halogen software customers have increased employee accountability for goals
The San Diego Zoo helped motivate its employees and boosted overall morale by introducing clear goals and accountability.
At AGF, employees are more focused on the achievement of their business unit's goals and have a better understanding of what they are working towards and why it is important.