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Employee Engagement: Smart Goals and Appreciation

Proaction International
Employee engagement: SMART goals and appreciation

Whether simple or complex, the most effective managerial practices are based on rigor.

The ability to give clear objectives and acknowledge team members are two critical skills for any manager, regardless of their industry or managerial level.

Let's see why adapting your leadership style to give clear employee goals and consideration makes a real difference in reaching the overall business goals of your organization, and how to achieve this daily:

1- Giving clear goals

  • How to set good performance goals
  • What is a SMART goal?
  • Minimal objective: the three W’s
  • Concrete examples of well-defined SMART goals

2- Expressing appreciation

  • What are consideration factors?
  • How to express appreciation?
  • Why do you need to express appreciation?
  • Negative consideration factors

Improving Business Performance THROUGH MANAGEMENT Download our Whitepaper

Giving clear goals

Whether it’s a five-minute check-in at the beginning of the day, holding, or even participating in a meeting, the ability to steer work through objectives is very important.

By clarifying expectations and eliminating ambiguity, you can set the level of excellence required or even raise the degree of demands. By being proactive, you can assess how actions are progressing and more easily identify gaps or obstacles to performance.

When guided towards goals, employees develop a sense of urgency as well as an adequate level of engagement and commitment to the results.

COMMENT: Executives usually have a good grasp of this management reflex, but proximity managers tend to find it harder to give clear goals to their teams. Well-adapted coaching can have an impact on how this skill is acquired and applied.

How to set good performance goals

A goal must be defined as clearly and simply as possible. Otherwise, we can’t be sure it will be well understood or that it will lead to the expected results.

SMART goals are the ideal and best-known method to achieve this and are a proven method to drive employee performance.

What is a SMART goal? Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Timebound

What is a SMART goal?

SMART is a mnemonic device that can help you define the parameters of an objective to express it efficiently.

A SMART goal is:

  • Specific – A specific goal concerns a precise and observable result or action.
  • Measurable – It can be quantified using known indicators and metrics (benchmarks, frequency, speed, quantity, etc.).
  • Ambitious – It represents a particular challenge, requires a special effort.
  • Realistic – The goal is attainable and achievable using the right tools and the right means.
  • Timebound – The objective must be met within an agreed-upon timeframe or milestones. They can be short-term or long-term, as long as a clear time period is defined. 

Some examples of guidance using goals:

  • Productivity (standard/time; volume/time)
  • Machine or team rhythm
  • Level of quality, number of discrepancies or complaints
  • Percentage of progress
  • Etc.

Concrete examples of well-defined SMART goals:

  • From the end of the adjustment, you may increase the rhythm to 75/min.
  • We are aiming to fill 4 full trucks by noon.
  • The goal is to have less than 2 non-conformities for the team this week.
  • You can complete this service request within 1 hour.
  • Come back to me with a workaround by Friday to reduce breakdowns by 10%.
  • We must follow the planning 100% from now on.
  • Productivity in your sector must increase by 78% by the end of the month.
  • By the end of the year, the customer satisfaction level should have improved by 5%.
  • We want to increase new clients acquisition by 10% in the next quarter.
  • We aim to attain a 40% conversion rate on leads by the end of the quarter.

Why set SMART goals for employees?

Establishing steady and measurable goals for your employees is a simple, effective management technique that makes a huge difference in their performance. When employees are well-oriented towards their goals, they are more motivated to excel, and managers have more opportunities to show their appreciation.

In addition, using SMART criteria makes it easier to build action plans that concretely align organizational goals and business objectives with employees' job responsibilities and their individual goals.

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The three W’s - Minimal goal

SMART goals are the absolute example for optimal performance, but it is not always possible to formulate objectives this way.

The three W’s method, which is simpler and quicker than SMART goals, can also lead to quite respectable results.

For Minimal Objectives, there are three W's: Who? What? When?

This method is based on three questions:

  • Who? — Who must perform the action or achieve the desired result?
  • What? — What is the action or result?
  • When? — When will the action or result be performed or achieved?

COMMENT: The goal-setting process should also be integrated into your employees' professional development plan. Having these goals set will make it easier for your team's daily performance management and measuring progress when it comes to their performance review.

DRIVING OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS At BomabardierDownload the case study

Expressing your appreciation

Managers must not only be able to communicate clear goals, but they must also be able to give feedback according to those objectives. These are what we call consideration factors.

Communicating goals is important, but so is valuing the employees who work to achieve them.

What are consideration factors?

The consideration factor is primarily a value-added exchange between two people that involves encouraging and recognizing employees in the workplace.

There are several ways to express appreciation, whether verbal, gestural, or physical. From a simple “thank you” to formal recognition.

How to express appreciation to your employees? Here are some examples of consideration factors you can use:

Why do you need to express appreciation?

Frequent, sincere expressions of recognition boost employee engagement and encourage good behavior while creating a sense of pride among team members. This makes them want to go above and beyond and repeat good performances.

By demonstrating their ability to acknowledge the team’s efforts, the manager develops a relationship of trust with their team based on objectivity thus reinforcing their leadership, increasing teamwork, and achieving a higher level of team engagement.

In addition to easing relations, expressing appreciation generally encourages positive moods in those who give and receive acknowledgment!

Negative consideration factors

While positive expressions of appreciation have a huge impact on employee engagement, the business will in turn pay the price for insensitive criticisms, or even insults, between members of an organization. Just like positive consideration factors, negative ones can be delivered in a variety of ways:

  • Verbal: “Rubbish” “Idiot.” “Are you still not getting it?”
  • Through gestures: Giving the finger, sighing, rolling the eyes
  • Physical: ignoring the other person, rushing them

Although they may seem benign or trivial at the moment, these words and gestures can lead (quickly or over the long term) to a decrease in performance in terms of speed, quality, lost time, etc. In fact, they are responsible for the collapse of the trust relationship between colleagues and a working environment that does not favor solutions.

Finally, such kind of atmosphere can even lead to the erosion of commitment in terms of creativity, belonging, and positivity.

TRAINING WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES Mobilize your teamsDownload the catalogue

Settings goals and expressing appreciation go hand in hand

We are talking about the notion of proactivity and rigor with these two key management reflexes.

During an active supervision tour, which on average only represents 7% of managers’ time, they struggle to give good goals and demonstrate appreciation towards their teams. Increasing the amount of time spent in quality contact with employees to 50% and standardizing the work of leaders expands the window of opportunity for giving objectives and recognition.

Likewise, when managers are made aware of the importance of communicating goals and giving recognition, they tend to be more proactive on both fronts, taking time to prepare for this before meetings with their team, for example.

By confirming whether the goals given during the last meeting have been achieved, they can express their appreciation for the employees involved, and so on. It becomes like second nature for managers who set out on this path.

Need help to establish a culture of performance in your company?

Coaching is a concrete way to help managers adopt best management practices, like giving SMART goals and recognizing their interactions with team members. Proaction International’s experts offer support based on coaching and training of teams, optimization of tools and processes, and management digitalization.

Proaction International

Proaction International

Proaction International relies on people, equipped with appropriate technology, as the driving force behind the performance and competitiveness of organizations. Proaction International's experts offer support based on coaching and training of teams, optimization of tools and processes, and digitalization of management via the UTrakk DMeS application, which promotes good management behavior.