Quarterly Goal Setting FTW

Most companies will ask employees to set job-specific and development goals once per year, usually during an annual performance review. While I think this is a good practice, ultimately I think it could be much more strategic and impactful. Quarterly goal setting is something I have asked my employees to do for a few years now. Because they only have to focus on three months rather than an entire calendar year, setting achievable goals becomes so much simpler. What I have found is that they have been better able to progress projects, reach milestones and find time for self-development along the way.

I have a pretty straightforward process I use to do this with my employees.

  1. Starting in January, I schedule 1 meeting per quarter with my employee where we focus solely on goal setting. This is a time outside of their weekly one-on-one, and I try to book these as far in advance as I can.
  2. I provide them with a little structure. No more than 3 job-specific goals per quarter, 1 professional development goal, and 1 personal development goal.
  3. I give them some probing questions to get them thinking more strategically about what they want to accomplish. What challenges do you think you'll face? Who needs to be involved? How will you measure your success?
  4. I require that they come prepared to the meeting with an outline of everything they are looking to accomplish.
  5. During the meeting we talk through each of these goals individually. I make sure to ask them in what way I can help them succeed. Their performance is a mutual commitment.
  6. I use the discussion and outline that as a framework for future one-on-one meetings, performance reviews, and the next quarterly goal setting meeting.

Regularity and consistency is the key to success with this process. My employees have those meetings on their calendar well in advance, and I make sure to reference their goal outline every time I can. I also check-in to ensure sure they are getting prepared when our next goal-setting meeting is approaching.

Making time to work on this with your employee will hold you both accountable, keep them on track without overwhelming them,  ultimately show your investment in their success.