HR Daily: Early goal-setting with 'delivery lens' sets employees up for success - Michelle Gibbings

As a leader, laying the groundwork for next year’s goals is the key to setting employees up for success. Michelle explains further in this article for HR Daily.

New year’s resolutions are prone to failure, but leaders can set employees up for success by laying the groundwork for next year’s goals now.

Across Australia, it’s important for leaders to understand that employees are approaching the end of the year with a variety of mindsets, says workplace culture expert Michelle Gibbings.

“If you’re based in Queensland or WA, it’s a very different sentiment to what you might be feeling if you were based in Melbourne or Sydney,” she tells HR Daily.

“There’s just a sense of exhaustion, and nearly everyone is just looking forward to 2021 being done, so that you can get into a new year, shake off ’21, and focus on connection and engagement, and hopefully looking forward to brighter days.”

As well as having conversations about when and how employees want to show up for work next year, Gibbings also says leaders can start prompting their teams to consider their 2022 goals.

In particular, she refers to research indicating many employees don’t deliver on new year’s resolutions, however setting the groundwork for next year’s goals now can keep them accountable.

“The key thing with goals and objectives is to really get crystal clear around what they actually look like, how deliverable are they, and also what’s going to change when you achieve them, and how  much does it matter to you,” she adds.

“Doing some of that goal setting at the end of the year actually then means you’re starting the new year ready to go, as opposed to using the new year to start to think about what it is you’re going to do.

“Do the work now, [so that] when you come back from holidays… you’re actually ready to start the year. You’re actually structured, you’re focused, and you actually know what it is that you want to achieve through the year.”

Applying a ‘delivery lens’

It’s up to leaders to help approach employees’ goals with a “delivery lens” and guide them towards their objectives in the planning stage, Gibbings says.

“The key thing then for leaders, is you’re having conversations.”

Good leaders will have a regular, structured program of team meetings and individual sessions, says Gibbings, and “in those individual one-onone conversations, they’re talking with their team members around, ‘how are you going, where can I help you, are there roadblocks that are stopping you from being able to progress in the way that you would like to progress, how can I help you remove those roadblocks?'”.

“So what you’re doing is, if they’ve got real clarity around their objectives and what it is they’re wanting to achieve through the year, you’re then using those check-in meetings to really get clarity around progress, what might be impeding progress, and also, do those goals… need to get reshaped because something might’ve changed.”

L&D goes hybrid

Meanwhile, Gibbings says leading organisations are introducing “refreshers” to close any gaps in knowledge between employees who were onboarded remotely during the pandemic and those who predate it.

“The last couple of years, there’s been turnover. People have left, new people have arrived, and so [leaders have] been doing that sort of induction to the organisation, [and] they’ve been doing it all remotely,” she notes.

As employees begin to return to the office in the new year, there may be knowledge gaps between employees that need to be bridged with refreshers “so that you’re starting the year with everybody on the same page”.

“There’s a couple of parts to this. It’s really you as the leader understanding: what’s worked for us over the last couple of years, where might there be some gaps?

“What you’re doing is you’re creating an approach that is fit for purpose, that works for you, works for your organisation and for the people in your team.”

In closing any gaps between employees, leaders can opt for team activities, capability assessments, or any “training and development that we’ve put on hold over the last couple of years because we wanted to do it face-to-face rather than do it remotely”.

Further, though some organisations might re-introduce face-to-face training, Gibbings says virtual training still has a place in the hybrid world of work.

“I think you’ll still see remote sessions because there are some real benefits in running sessions remotely, but I’m also seeing a huge desire for people to be back in the same room,” she says.

“You’re going to see L&D professionals making really distinct and clear decisions – ‘when does this need to be done remotely, and when are we going to get a better outcome because we have everybody in the room together?’

“Both modes of delivery have their pros and have their cons.”

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