Companies or departments will usually set goals or targets which everyone works together to achieve. This helps them keep employees focused on the future and motivated. But it’s also vitally important that personal goals are set, so you feel challenged and your progress can be measured.
Setting individual goals will usually be done in conjunction with your line manager, but as an employee you also need to take responsibility to make sure meaningful targets are agreed on. To start, think about everything you want to achieve and divide these into long-term and short-term goals. Then break the long-term goals up into smaller attainable steps – it’s not enough to just think about the end result of your goal, you also need to think about the steps that have to be taken to get there! Do this for all your short-term and long-term goals to develop a personal strategy on how you can achieve these.
Remember that the goals you set yourself need to be challenging, yet achievable, as this will help you build your self-esteem and confidence in the workplace. They also need to be flexible, as there might be occasions when a goal isn’t met and it needs to change. If this happens, just think about why the goal what went wrong and what you could have done differently; was it a realistic target or were there factors out of your control that affected the outcome? Use these occasions to help you set more attainable goals next time, at Reckitt Benckiser, for example, our employees have this exact policy – if it goes wrong we brush ourselves off and move on, but make sure we learn any valuable lessons.
You also need to follow up on the progress of goals, it isn’t enough to just be told that it hasn’t been reached, if you don’t understand why, or how close you were to the target, very little can be learnt. This is important both with personal targets and those for a whole a company or department – if this information isn’t readily available make sure you ask your line manager for an update.
Undoubtedly setting goals, and achieving them, can help you be successful in your career, as being able to prove and track your progress will bring more responsibility and rewards. Make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunities that setting goals can offer – work with your line-manager to agree personal goals that will act as markers against which your development can be measured.