Goal setting imperative to most workers, but many managers fumble the task
December 4, 2017
• Survey finds generational and gender differences
• “Professionals who don't regularly talk about work objectives … are missing a prime opportunity to advance their career”
Having a goal is the first step to achieving it, the saying goes. But in the workplace, many managers are fumbling the task, as far as their staffs are concerned, according to a new survey paid for by Accountemps, a unit of the staffing firm Robert Half International (NYSE: RHI) of Menlo Park.
Nine out of ten (93 percent) survey respondents say goal setting is important to their on-the-job performance. And while more than half of professionals (51 percent) discuss goal progress with their manager at least monthly, 11 percent never broach the topic, the survey says.
Younger employees place more emphasis on work-related performance goals, the research says. Almost seven in 10 millennials (69 percent) surveyed think goal setting is very important, compared to 55 percent of baby boomers.
More men (60 percent) than women (40 percent) discuss performance goals with their manager at least monthly. Additionally, 17 percent of female workers never bring up the subject, compared to just 5 percent of their male counterparts.
"Professionals who don't regularly talk about work objectives and performance with their supervisor are missing a prime opportunity to advance their career," says Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps. "Partner with your manager to set goals, discuss progress and potential obstacles, and decide whether you need to make any course corrections."
Accountemps offers five tips for setting — and achieving — professional goals. In its words:
• Retreat and refocus
Goal setting is not something you can accomplish during a coffee break or in a busy office. Remove yourself from distractions to really think about your current job and desired career path.
• Get detailed
Identify a small number of goals to tackle at once. As you settle on objectives, make sure they are specific, quantifiable, realistic and timely. Always set a deadline to keep yourself on track.
• Go long, then short
Start with the destination and then work backward. First determine your long-term goals, then establish a series of smaller tasks to help you reach them.
• Enlist your manager's help
Employers want their employees to achieve professional success and job satisfaction. Partner with your boss to set goals that align with department and company objectives, and discuss career paths and next steps during your regular meetings.
• Put them in writing
Record your goals somewhere so you can review them regularly and hold yourself accountable. This will help you stay on track and ensure the work you're doing is aligned with your objectives.
About the survey
The survey was developed and paid for by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.