Goals-5In most organizations, managers and employees start the year – or review period – by documenting goals and objectives. Unfortunately, however, those goals and objectives often get tucked away in a file somewhere not to be seen again until they magically reappear at the annual performance review.  By then circumstances may have changed, or it may be too late to catch up on a goal gone astray.

A better option is to keep the goals clearly in view, and to have regular “check-ins” throughout the year to assess progress and make any adjustments needed. I’m going to suggest that if you haven’t already had a check-in you do it now!

Remember that performance management is a process, not just an event. You should have mini-reviews with your employees throughout the year to provide feedback and development coaching. This will help both you and your employees track accomplishments and address areas for improvement in a timely manner. There should be no surprises during the annual review.

When you set goals, be sure they are SMART goals. If the ones you set earlier this year were not, review them now to make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. The “time-bound” component is another reason that you need to have regular check-ins during the year so you can keep track of the due date and assess what happened if something slips.

For employee goals to be effective and meaningful, they need to be tied to both organization and team goals. Employees are more likely to be motivated and engaged when they can see how their work impacts the organization as a whole. In our dynamic work environments organizational goals (and team goals) may shift as priorities change during the year, so be sure that during your periodic reviews you update employee goals to reflect that.

Communicate with your employees on a regular basis through informal meetings (e.g., weekly one-on-ones) and more formal quarterly check-ins. Provide support in terms of resources and guidance as they work on their goals. Are they having trouble getting the input, effort or approvals needed from others in order to complete the goal? Are there roadblocks? Use this as a coaching opportunity and work together to develop a path forward.

When goals are achieved, recognize the achievement. For especially challenging or stretch goals, spend some time with the employee discussing his or her approach, lessons learned, and/or things that could have been done differently.

Making the time to have period check-ins and dialogues about goals and development opportunities will help keep your employees engaged and contribute to organizational success.