The first quarter of the year, in my view, is the most important quarter to ensure your business and people are set up for success. While there is still time to prepare, let’s review some options on what you can do to set yourself and your employees up for success.
Most companies will be setting their goals and projections with senior executives. But what about the remainder of your employees? Every person from the top to the bottom of your organization should have a goal-setting process. They might set a 15- to 20-minute meeting with their manager or complete a document in an online forum that is reviewed and accepted by their leader during a specific time period.
As a human resources professional, I see a fair share of challenges in business. I estimate that around 80% of the problems I see stem from a lack of direction and parameters, which leads to miscommunication. Any person, including a CEO, needs to have direction with specific targets accompanied by deadlines.
What I recommend is for executives to decide on a few key company goals, which then become part of all employees’ individual development plans. Then, allow employees to add in their own goals on how they can help drive the company and themselves forward. All companies should support employee self-development, as the more your employee learns, the more it helps not only themselves but also the business.
Many business leaders solely conduct performance reviews once per year, however, I disagree with this model. For leaders and employees to stay on top of their goals, projections and even stretch targets, a simple quarterly review is necessary. So much can change within a business in six months to a year, and being agile to changing markets is important.
Each quarter, remind employees to review their goals. If you have an HR system, it might be able to do this for you via email; team members could fill out a form in the system that’s sent to their direct leader when they’re finished.
But an even better suggestion is for leaders to set aside 10 to 15 minutes to hold conversations with their employees about what is working and what is not working. This helps support your team to reach year-end targets. The purpose is to understand that investing time into your employees is truly the best thing a company can do.
So what happens when an employee is not achieving targets or has somehow gotten off track? Within my 19 years of HR experience, every day, I meet leaders who delay the inevitable performance management. It’s one of the reasons why I decided to write my book, Navigating HR.
When a leader avoids having conversations with employees, it is not setting anyone up for success. It condones the behavior that is happening, sends mixed messages to the employee (as well as others on the team) and can even impact a person’s well-being.
Ensure you provide clear, concise and time-efficient feedback so that information is fresh in both the leader’s and employee’s minds. One of my favorite approaches to use is the XYZ method, which was pioneered by psychologist Haim Ginott. To use this model, you’d say to your employee, “When you do X, the result is Y, so can you do Z instead?” This is a quick way to open up those lines of communication and help you feel more comfortable having difficult conversations with employees.
Remember, the goal is to set everyone up for success — the company, executives, shareholders and all employees. As leaders, there are many options for what you can do to help. The purpose is to invest in your goals, as this will help your employees — and your business — reach new heights.