How to Set Objectives for the New Year

January is the time for New Year’s resolutions and that includes setting your department’s work objectives for the upcoming year. Traditionally, work objectives cascade down from the top of the organization. The company strategy determines the list of goals and initiatives; then departments determine how they will contribute to those goals; finally, individuals are given their accountabilities for reaching the department’s objectives. However, this is a one-way process that does not take into account the personal goals of the employees who must do the work. Each employee has his/her own motivations and aspirations that must be considered when setting the department’s yearly objectives. When personal motivations support the achievement of company goals, everyone wins! Use the following process with your direct reports to set the department’s yearly objectives and to ensure that your employees are committed to those goals:

  1. Identify the department’s opportunities and challenges. Ask each of your direct reports for their input on what the department is doing well and where it can improve.
  2. Identify the department’s objectives and key initiatives. Share the company strategy with each employee. Describe the big picture, including, the company vision, mission, values, goals, and how your department is being asked to contribute during the year.
  3. Identify the employees’ personal strengths and challenges. Discuss with each employee how he/she can contribute to this year’s initiatives based on the performance review you completed. Describe the skills and talents that each individual brings in helping the department meet its goals.
  4. Identify the personal motivations and aspirations of your employees. How will each employee personally gain from the department meeting its goals?  What does each employee want to personally achieve this year?
  5. Ensure that each employee has three types of objectives: company goals, department improvements and personal priorities.

Work on setting your objectives for the New Year this week.

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