Working with staff to set KPIs annually can be an exercise in frustration: whether they're too vague or too ambitious, workers are likely to have forgotten about those goals long before their next review rolls around in a year's time.
That's why one HR tech company has made short-term goal-setting part of its culture, to inspire, engage and retain staff, garner feedback and drive progress.
WorkTango's co-founder Rob Catalano is so passionate about employee engagement that the "CEO" on his business card stands for "chief engagement officer".
He believes that if a company wants success, it must promote the success of its employees.
"If you don't define what success looks like, then you don't even know if you're winning or not," Catalano says.
While most companies set annual or longer-term goals, each of WorkTango's employees sets themselves five goals every single week.
"It's great because people know what they're trying to accomplish, but also as the leadership team, we can understand if people maybe need to shift their focus, or maybe the major goals have changed so we need to change our near-term goals.
"Employees don't work in years and quarters, they work in days and weeks and hours, so having things that are more near-term definitely helps keep people focused … If you only check in on those goals every quarter or year, then you're never going to get there."
The top three goals are the staff member's top priorities; their fourth is a "stretch goal" – "if you don't hit the fourth, it's OK, but if you were going to stretch and try to get something done, what would that be?"; and the fifth is a personal goal, for the staff member's own skills and career development.
Each week, employees and their leaders have a retrospective about what went well and what didn't, before asking "what are we going to do differently next time?"
The data is also tracked, so WorkTango can see if staff members are repeatedly failing to hit their goals.
Catalano says the goal-setting has become part of WorkTango's culture, and has made employees more diligent about what their priorities at work should be.
"People like it because it keeps them focused, they like it because their manager knows what they're doing, and then there's more alignment."
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