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Why collaborative goal setting drives employee engagement
Blog //25-10-2018

Why collaborative goal setting drives employee engagement

by OneAdvanced PR, Author

Goals are more than a means to quan­ti­ta­tive­ly mea­sure employ­ee per­for­mance. The com­bi­na­tion of a fixed dead­line and clear­ly defined deliv­er­able is designed as a mech­a­nism to help employ­ees work in a struc­tured and effec­tive man­ner. Effec­tive goal set­ting helps to increase employ­ee engage­ment, improve per­for­mance, and ben­e­fits the organ­i­sa­tion as a whole.

Yet, many com­pa­nies aren’t cap­i­tal­is­ing on the most impor­tant part of goal set­ting – work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to align per­son­al goals to com­pa­ny and team pri­or­i­ties and initiatives.

Research shows that col­lab­o­ra­tive goal set­ting dri­ves employ­ee engage­ment. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it also shows that only 13% of employ­ees strong­ly agree that their lead­ers help to set clear per­for­mance goals. The result? Poor employ­ee engage­ment and low motivation.

By con­trast, 72% of employ­ees whose man­agers help them to set goals are ful­ly engaged, and those rates increase by 2.5 times when man­agers hold staff account­able for their per­for­mance goals. This is because when goals are set col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly, employ­ees can see how their work con­tributes to cor­po­rate objec­tives and team mis­sions. Employ­ees want clear guid­ance that extends beyond their per­son­al work and towards the greater com­pa­ny picture.

Not only do clear col­lab­o­ra­tive goals dri­ve employ­ee engage­ment, but they also help increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and prof­itabil­i­ty. A Gallup study dis­cov­ered that busi­ness­es in the top 25% for employ­ee engage­ment were also 21% more prof­itable and 17% more pro­duc­tive. But with 60% of employ­ees feel­ing uncer­tain about their company’s mis­sion, vision and val­ues – is it time to re-address goal mak­ing processes?

What are col­lab­o­ra­tive goals?

Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty describes col­lab­o­ra­tive goal set­ting as the process of decid­ing and set­ting goals togeth­er. Unlike the tra­di­tion­al mod­el in which a man­ag­er decides the direc­tion of an employee’s work, col­lab­o­ra­tive goals are agreed through dis­cussing, observ­ing, lis­ten­ing, pri­ori­tis­ing and eval­u­at­ing tar­gets and objec­tives togeth­er. It’s a trans­par­ent process that helps employ­ees feel as though they’re being lis­tened to and includ­ed in the company’s broad­er work.

Although employ­ee engage­ment is a com­plex com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, enforc­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive goal set­ting and trans­paren­cy is a step in the right direction.

Strate­gies for cre­at­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive goals

Set­ting goals col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly can be dif­fi­cult for some man­agers. There’s a fine line between hands-on man­age­r­i­al prac­tices and micro­manag­ing. Work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly requires man­agers to allow employ­ees to take own­er­ship of their goals and for the man­ag­er to adopt a more sup­port­ive, advi­so­ry role.

Here are our top strate­gies and prin­ci­ples to help man­agers nav­i­gate col­lab­o­ra­tive goal setting.

Link per­son­al goals to com­pa­ny-wide objectives

Per­son­al goals are only mean­ing­ful if they are con­nect­ed to larg­er organ­i­sa­tion­al ambi­tions. 91% of com­pa­nies that have effec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tems say that employ­ees’ goals are tied to the broad­er busi­ness pri­or­i­ties. These com­pa­nies have under­stood that col­lab­o­ra­tion breeds a cul­ture of account­abil­i­ty and trust.

Every employ­ee, at every lev­el, should be able to clear­ly state how their efforts link into a broad­er com­pa­ny strat­e­gy. For this to work, the com­pa­ny strat­e­gy needs to be trans­lat­ed into clear organ­i­sa­tion­al goals writ­ten in lan­guage that employ­ees can understand.

Your per­for­mance man­age­ment prac­tices need to ensure that these organ­i­sa­tion­al goals are com­mu­ni­cat­ed and are avail­able to employ­ees when they are set­ting their per­son­al objec­tives. How­ev­er, avoid down­wards goal cas­cad­ing. This is an admin­is­tra­tive­ly heavy exer­cise that rarely works in practice.

In our per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware, we use a sim­ple upwards align­ing process, that ensures all objec­tives sup­port the over­all goals of the organ­i­sa­tion in a clear and trans­par­ent way. It’s quick and effective.

Keep com­mu­ni­ca­tion ongoing

Goals need to be clear­ly artic­u­lat­ed and reg­u­lar­ly re-vis­it­ed. Out­dat­ed annu­al per­for­mance reviews rely on year­ly check-ins to ensure that employ­ees are up-to-date and informed of com­pa­ny strate­gies and mis­sions. Yet, in most busi­ness­es, these objec­tives and focus points change and trans­form in the space of a year. As a result over 40% of work­ers claim that the guid­ance they receive is too vague. In order for col­lab­o­ra­tive goals to be mean­ing­ful, ongo­ing and reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key.

The Har­vard Busi­ness review has recent­ly laid out a num­ber of active and pas­sive tech­niques com­pa­nies can use to com­mu­ni­cate and embed goals. Includ­ed in the active mea­sures are man­age­ment brief­in­gs, com­pa­ny-wide meet­ings and per­for­mance reviews. Pas­sive mea­sures for com­mu­ni­cat­ing include cor­po­rate social media mes­sag­ing, intranet com­mu­ni­ca­tion and recruit­ment efforts.

Above all, make com­mu­ni­ca­tion a pri­or­i­ty. Set reg­u­lar one-to-one check-ins through­out the year, so that com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels are always open and flow­ing in both direc­tions. Check-ins ensure that objec­tives and goals are con­sis­tent­ly rein­forced and artic­u­lat­ed so that it is easy to track whether every­one is aligned with the broad­er picture.

Under­take surveys

Sur­veys are a great way to assess whether employ­ees are on board with com­pa­ny strat­e­gy and how their work impacts the com­pa­ny. Sur­veys can be under­tak­en in quar­ter­ly, bi-annu­al, or annu­al peri­ods and struc­tured to the par­tic­u­lar require­ments of the organisation.

The Har­vard Busi­ness Review high­lights the annu­al sur­vey from the North Amer­i­can bank­ing chain, which pro­vides a use­ful guide­line. Ques­tions could include:

  • Can you sum up the com­pa­ny strat­e­gy in three words?
  • How does your role con­tribute to the broad­er com­pa­ny initiatives?
  • What are your per­son­al milestones?
  • What are the pos­si­ble risks that could inhib­it you from reach­ing your goals? How can you man­age these obstacles?

Be pre­pared for goals and direc­tions to change

Busi­ness moves quick­ly. Pri­or­i­ties can change overnight and direc­tion can shift dra­mat­i­cal­ly. Stag­nant goals quick­ly become obso­lete. Goals should reflect the dynam­ic and ever-evolv­ing nature of busi­ness. Along­side a flex­i­ble atti­tude, real-time feed­back soft­ware makes chang­ing goals easy and effi­cient. With Advanced Clear Review, objec­tives can be added and updat­ed at any point in the year and so reflect the inevitable changes that arise.

Learn more about employ­ee engagement

If you’d like to know more about per­for­mance and engage­ment, take a look at our col­lec­tion of free resources — includ­ing our pop­u­lar whitepaper on ‚ÄčPow­er­ing per­for­mance with engaged employees.” 

The key to employee engagement

Learn more about employee engagement from our collection of free resources. You'll discover how you can boost performance and productivity through improving employee engagement.

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