A Gallup survey of employees show just over half have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them when they show up to work every day. It sounds alarming that nearly 50% of employees are not clear about the goals they are expected to achieve at work! How is it possible to reach a destination when you don’t know where you are going?

It’s difficult for an organization to accomplish its goals if it doesn’t help its employees understand how they can contribute to achieving those goals. Whether the economy is good or bad, most organizations are constantly looking for ways to increase productivity.

For managers who are looking to do more with less, a key first step is for them to know their employees individually. This helps managers position workers for success, motivate them, and keep them focused on actions that are essential for the continued health of the organization.

Individualized goal setting can be a particularly powerful tool for motivating employees to own their role and pursue performance beyond generic job expectations.

Collaborative goal setting can be challenging for managers and employees; however, it is a top driver of engagement and performance. Working together to agree on goals and performance standards forces both the employee and the manager to put effort into performance development and make a commitment to one another about what work has to get done.

Coaching in Organisations

Collaborative goal setting boosts intrinsic motivation for employees because they get to help identify which responsibilities are most meaningful to them. Managers also benefit from a commitment to collaborative goal setting because it forces them to think about how they can help create individualized goals and best support their team members in pursuing their goals.

When managers use this collaborative approach, they should be sure to encourage employees to set high standards for defining success and regularly review employees’ progress toward meeting their goals.

Great managers periodically assess whether an employee’s performance goals are still relevant. It is easy for managers to set goals and forget about them until it is time for a progress review, but regularly reviewing whether an employee’s goals are appropriate for his or her position and duties is just as important as reviewing progress toward meeting them.

Start with Talent and End with Strength

Talents are our innate recurring thoughts, feelings and behaviors and when applied productively we start to produce extraordinary results. To apply them productively we must realize that we are in charge of choosing which talents are best suited to a particular situation. For example, if you have empathy and drive as a natural characteristic, you may find in one situation it is empathy that is required and in another your drive will serve you better!

Strength is defined as producing a consistent positive outcome in a task or activity and it is reached by investing in our talents through learning how to develop them through knowledge, skills and practice. For example, a manger having regular one-on-one meetings with their team members can learn coaching skills and apply their talent of empathy to build a more trusting relationship. That in turn could lead to more effective communication and clearer actions with high degree of ownership from the team member.

Knowing what’s expected

Employees who intentionally apply their talents to their work increase the odds of their success. But it’s difficult for managers to do any of this if they are not attuned to the talents of the people on their team. And it’s just as difficult for workers to use their talents if their managers don’t understand, appreciate, or maximize those talents.

A lack of clearly defined expectations is detrimental to the productivity of an organization. Worse, it’s almost impossible for the organization to be credible in the eyes of its employees if it cannot clearly articulate what employees should be doing at work. So, what is the best way to communicate expectations to employees?

The first thing is to describe WHAT each employee is supposed to accomplish, not HOW he or she is supposed to accomplish it. Don’t explain expectations as a process or set of steps; explain them in terms of the outcomes the employee needs to achieve to reach organizational goals.

The second is to get to know each employee’s greatest talents and the tasks and activities they are drawn to naturally. Then, discuss how employees can use their unique talents, knowledge and skills to achieve expectations. This also helps managers understand the specific ways an employee will produce exceptional results. There is rarely only one way to accomplish a task. Freeing employees to use their natural powers (talents) to achieve key outcomes can help them find more efficient ways to meet expectations.

Identifying your strengths

Only 36% of employees strongly agree with that statement: “every week, I set goals and expectations based on my strengths.”

So, it appears that the majority of employees either don’t know their strengths, or are unable to apply them in their current jobs. This is unfortunate, because employees who set their goals based on their strengths are more than seven times more likely to be engaged in their work and therefore much more likely to be high performers.

Identifying the talents of each employee can be difficult, and often even individuals don’t know how to describe what they do best. You could take a Gallup assessment that provides a starting point for identifying specific personal talents. But employees need to know more than just what their talents are. They also need to know how to use what they’ve learned about their talents at work and that’s where strengths-based development comes in.

Strength Development Program

significant financial benefits to organizations. It hinge on whether employees can apply what they learn about themselves to their everyday tasks. The most basic and crucial aspect of this developmental process is learning how to set goals and expectations based on talents, knowledge and skills of the individual.

Learning about strengths is a journey. It may start with an individual, but it often becomes a team effort accomplished by employees, managers, and organizations. Once the journey has begun, everyone involved can learn about each other’s capabilities and build on what they know. Then they can set the goals and reach the milestones that help organizations succeed.

Taymour Miri

Taymour Miri is an ICF master coach and a Gallup certified strengths coach and more recently one of the first 136 coaches world wide to be awarded an Advanced Certificate in Team Coaching. He has 30 years’ experience in leadership roles and 20 years of experince in coaching. Taymour has trained over 1,500 coaches across five continents and is the founder of International Coaching Education (ICE).