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Setting, Communicating and Rewarding Goals

February 1, 1999
Related Topics: Recognition, Motivating Employees, Featured Article
Can't seem to make the connection between setting goals and making them happen? Kevin Gross, president of TRI Inc. in Elmhurst, Illinois, offers some ideas for how to smooth the rocky road between telling employees what you want them to accomplish, getting them to follow through and rewarding their behavior along the way.

  1. Clearly communicate the WIIFM ("What's in it for me?") to employees.
    The goal-setter's agenda isn't necessarily compelling to the doer. The first thing the goal has to answer is, "What's in it for me?"

  2. Communicate in actionable terms what the worker or the line person can do to meet the goals.
    All too frequently we leave it up in the conceptual realm: Why don't we increase sales? Why don't we make it the year of the customer? You have to specify the behaviors that actually make those goals happen. When you see someone doing those behaviors or they've changed what they're doing now from what they did before in response to the goal, you need to immediately recognize and reinforce that. That means linking praise close to the behavior.

  3. Immediately recognize behaviors that support company goals.
    Frequently, line managers don't look for the behaviors and they don't recognize them. Accordingly, the behavior doesn't get reinforced, which is the bad business outcome. The personal outcome is that the individual who's changing and trying to do a good job gets no validation and feels that nobody cares about him or her-you just ask the person to do more work, which totally undermines the whole achievement of the goal.

  4. Marry the work ethic with the employee's worth ethic.
    Help each employee to understand why he or she is important and how he or she makes a difference. Unleashing the potential of people is easy because everybody wants to be great. Notice what people do and tell them the impact it's having on your organization.

  5. Celebrate or stagnate.
    If you don't acknowledge good behaviors, you'll get a stagnant, lifeless result.

  6. Ask people how they like to receive acknowledgement before the work is done.
    People will see that you cared enough to ask. It sets a stage for people to do a great job.

Workforce, February 1999, Vol. 78, No. 2, pp. 82.

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