Engaging Employees with Collaborative Goal-Setting

In sports, a team’s goal is simple: To win. In business, the goal is usually much more complex. Organizations must balance short- and long-term needs, stay ahead of the competition while keeping up with changing trends, and ensure that the dozens, hundreds, or thousands of employees working for the company are all making positive contributions.

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The third part of that equation—the employees—is the X-factor. If an organization’s employees aren’t buying in or performing at high levels, everything else can crumbling down. The sports metaphor comes in handy in this case: A sports franchise can have great management, the best facilities, and dole out hefty contracts to players, but if those players aren’t fully committed and working towards a shared goal, then the team isn’t going to succeed.

How do you keep employees engaged and committed to the organization’s overall mission? Click To Tweet

Similarly, in a business setting, how do you keep employees engaged and committed to the organization’s overall mission? This question is especially challenging for large companies where individuals may not see the immediate effects of their work. How do you communicate that there is a larger purpose behind an employee’s everyday efforts?

Goals That Create Alignment

Collaborative goal setting can help. The process involves employees and managers working in partnership to craft individual goals that will directly influence team, department, and company-wide initiatives. It offers an opportunity for both manager and employee to provide input and ask questions.

When a manager simply dictates goals, it leaves the employee with no voice and no sense of ownership. It shows no respect for their opinions or ideas, instead leaving the employee feeling powerless or resentful. This is a recipe for high turnover.

When a manager simply dictates goals, it leaves the employee with no voice. Click To Tweet

Alternatively, when the employee is tasked with choosing their own goals, with no managerial input, there’s often a lack of accountability. As the link between employees and executives, the manager is best equipped to connect their team members’ goals to the company’s larger objectives. This gives the manager a sense of ownership in the process as well—they’ll be more invested in helping their reports accomplish goals.

The Current Situation

Unfortunately, right now only 30% of employees surveyed by Gallup strongly agree that their manager involves them in setting goals. And only 19% strongly agree that they have talked to their manager about the necessary steps to reach those goals.

However, those employees that are involved in a collaborative goal setting process tend to be much more engaged than their counterparts. 72% of millennials who strongly agree that their manager helps them establish performance goals are engaged in their work.

Accountability is a major factor in that employee engagement. A Dominican University study examined the effects of sending weekly progress updates to a friend when working towards a goal. The study found that 70% of participants who sent weekly updates successfully achieved their goals, while only 35% of those who did not report their progress accomplished their goals.

Accountability is a major factor in employee engagement. Click To Tweet

This data illustrates that it’s not only the act of collaboratively setting goals, but also of making those goals public, that increases the chances of success. That’s why goal management software is such an incredibly helpful tool for businesses. It allows managers and employees to set goals, display them, and continually track their progress. That’s the sort of collaboration that builds winning teams.

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