Using a goal-setting template can help improve your performance management efforts. If you’ve been trying to effectively communicate how employees can improve their performance, you’ll find that setting actionable, clear-cut goals ensures that everyone is on the same page. However, you’ll need to use the right tools to communicate those goals. Goal-setting templates offer ease of use, convenience, and other benefits, but there are things you’ll need to know about them.

Using a Goal-Setting Template: Tips and Benefits

The Types of Goal-Setting Template Options

Goal setting is a central part of performance management when it comes to both individuals and teams. The right template is important for each scenario, though. Some of the most important goal-setting templates include the following:

  • Quarterly OKRs Templates
  • Goals Review Templates
  • SMART Goals Templates
  • 30-60-90-Day Plan Templates

What does each type of template bring to the table, though? What should you know about using them in your performance management efforts? Below, we’ll talk more about each type of template and provide important tips and advice for getting the most benefits from them.

Quarterly OKRs Goal-Setting Template

OKR stands for objectives and key results. This type of goal-setting template is useful for both individuals and teams and helps ensure that your team members are on the same page in terms of their primary mission. These templates allow you to set specific objectives for individuals, as well as for entire teams, providing a concrete goal.

Setting defined results also helps ensure that your people can gauge their progress toward specific goals and drill down into processes and procedures if achieving that objective did not result in the anticipated result. For instance, did releasing a new mobile app have the intended results? If not, why not? What objectives might be required to course correct?

How do you use OKRs effectively, though? It’s all about understanding what they are and how they apply to the people you manage.

OKRs are never separated into just objectives and results. The objective is the what – it’s what your company wants to achieve codified as a goal. For instance, your organization wants to boost customer engagement. The key results constitute the path of how you will reach that goal. Designing and building a new consumer-facing mobile app could be how you intend to boost customer engagement, for instance.

So, how do you use OKRs effectively to motivate employees and improve their performance? It’s all about ensuring that your objectives are big enough to be meaningful and motivating and that your key results are measurable. It’s also important that you don’t use binary KRs very often. Binary means accomplished or not – yes or no, black or white, etc.

Finally, make sure that you use a combination of committed and aspirational OKRs. What’s the difference? Aspirational OKRs are those audacious goals that you’re not sure if you can hit and they usually score around 0.7 on the scale. In comparison, committed OKRs are those that you expect to be delivered in full and they have a score of 1.0. Blend the two to motivate your team members while challenging them to reach for new heights.

Goals Review Template

All employees need goals to strive toward in terms of their personal performance in the workplace. Goals reviews allow managers and employees to sit down together, explore the factors that lead to success, as well as identify hurdles that might slow progress toward those goals. It also becomes possible to celebrate wins together and then set new goals for the future.

Of course, you’ll need to follow some pretty specific steps when setting goals for the employee. For instance, are they relevant to their current position as well as to their career path? It’s possible to set goals that are neither, which, while possibly being in the organization’s best interest, do the employee no good at all.

In this case, management needs to rethink its stance toward employee development and ensure that they are focusing on what builds the business, but also what builds employee success and helps everyone achieve their maximum potential.

Setting goals for employees is as challenging as using OKRs properly, but a few tips will help you iron out the kinks.

  1. Make sure the goals align with company objectives. Goals that don’t align with company objectives at least in some ways are meaningless. By setting goals that align well, you help employees feel that they are contributing to the overall success of the organization, and you show them the importance of their role.
  1. Engage your employees by allowing them to set job-specific goals. Not all goals should come from management. Employees must be able to set goals that matter to them, particularly job-specific goals. What sorts of goals might they set? It could be anything from improving productivity to getting better at how they handle inter-team conflict.
  1. Make sure the goals you’re setting are attainable. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for shooting for the moon, and at least some goals should be aspirational. However, most goals should be attainable and realistic (more on this in the next section). If you fail to set attainable goals, your employees will become disillusioned, unmotivated, and dispirited.

SMART Goals Template

We’ve talked a bit about setting specific goals that are measurable, attainable, and realistic. If you’ve spent much time in management or administration, you probably recognize those from the acronym SMART. In SMART goal setting, you achieve what we’ve been discussing thus far, while also ensuring alignment with your organization’s mission.

SMART stands for (s)pecific, (m)easurable, (a)ttainable, (r)ealistic, and (t)ime-bound. Ensuring that your goals fall into those five buckets can be challenging, but it’s imperative. Specific goals can relate to the employee’s position, their particular project, and more. Measurable goals are just that, while attainable goals are those that can be achieved reasonably. Realistic goals can be reached with the time and resources available to the employee, and time-bound goals must be achieved within a stated time.

Why do SMART goals matter, though? Simply put, they help ensure that your employees can achieve what you need. They also help make sure that you are not setting the team up for failure by creating goals that aren’t achievable, measurable, or realistic. Open-ended, ill-defined goals like “improve revenue generation” are nebulous and don’t provide a concrete end point for accurate goal setting.

After all, how much is enough? If you boost revenue generation by just $1, your team has technically achieved the goal, but chances are good that won’t move the needle with upper management. SMART goals provide a framework on which you and your team can build success.

30-60-90 Day Plan Template

This type of goal-setting template allows you to align work across the entire team while setting expectations and then providing a guide that will apply to performance and one-on-ones. Note that this goal-setting template builds on the concepts we’ve covered already, including SMART goal setting. Creating an effective 30-60-90-day plan involves a few specific steps.

First, make sure that you’re setting SMART goals. If you’re not, this will not work, even if you’re using a predefined goal-setting template. Next, make sure you carefully consider what you want your employees to prioritize. This should be baked into the plan and should be stepped according to how you need goals accomplished – what do you want them to have accomplished within 30 days? Within 60 days? What about within 90 days?

It’s also important that you encourage your employees to engage in professional development. Not only will this improve their ability to handle their responsibilities today, but it prepares them for a brighter future and an even more integral role with your organization.

As you’re planning and discussing things with each employee, outline the applicable goals. Rough out what you want them to achieve within a month, within two months, and then within three months. Note that you’ll still need to refine those goals based on performance conversations with each employee – you should directly ask for their input, feedback, and opinions before finalizing any plans.

The Takeaway

Using a goal setting template can help ensure that you and your employees/direct reports can set clear, actionable, accurate goals. With those, you’ll be able to achieve more within your team and across the entire department. However, it also empowers individual employees. When employees have an engaged manager who is willing to work with them to set relevant, attainable goals that apply to their job-related responsibilities as well as their career path, they will flourish.

With that being said, it’s important to remember that a goal-setting template is not going to make up for a lack in other areas. For instance, if you’re still committed to using punitive, outdated performance management methods (the carrot and stick method, for instance), then you won’t see the same quality of results as a manager who understands modern performance management methodology, including check-ins, one-on-ones, and the need for personal growth as well as professional development. The eLeaP continuous performance management system provides organizations with powerful options to attract and retain high caliber team members.

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