As a small business owner, it's your responsibility to give your employees direction. Small business owners typically craft and distribute job descriptions to their employees when they're hired. Employees' job descriptions outline the types of duties and tasks they're expected to perform in their positions. Beyond distributing job descriptions, employers should also sit down with their employees and help them develop goals. Employee goals focus on specific tasks employees should accomplish while working in their respective positions.
Set specific goals that clearly state what you want your employees to do. For example, a business goal for a social media consulting firm may be to launch five ebooks, within the next 12 moths, about how small businesses use social media. An employee goal, for the company's business development manager, may be to research what types of social media information prospective clients typically ask for.
Make each employee goal measurable, so that you can evaluate whether the employee accomplished the assigned goal, as well as how successful the company was, as a result. For example, you might ask a graphic designer to create five brochure designs for a new product your company is launching.
Determine whether the goals you set are actually attainable for your employees. Attainability depends on the employees' skills and experience, workload, time constraints and availability of resources.
Select relevant goals that are related to the employees' job description as well as the companies' needs. In the example of the ebooks, the social media company may want to use the books to generate leads and attract clients, who will hire the company for consulting projects, and use the ebooks sales as passive income.
Give each goal a time frame, which represents when it should be completed, so that employees know their deadlines. An employee gathering information for ebook titles might have a month to complete his research and submit his potential titles, before management picks the final title selections and hires a writer to begin researching the topics and outlining the ebooks.
Evaluate each employee's progress during quarterly or annual reviews and provide them with feedback. Assign new goals, as necessary.
- "Inc." Magazine; How to Set Goals for New Employees; Lou DuBois; December 2010
- "Inc." Magazine; The Importance of Goal Setting; August 2010
- "Entrepreneur" Magazine; Set Goals for Your Employees; Septemebr 2002
- "Fast Company" Magazine; Set Smaller Goals, Get Bigger Results; Dan and Chip Heath; March 2009
- Evaluate each employee's progress during quarterly or annual reviews and provide them with feedback. Assign new goals, as necessary.
- Don't make goals that can't be achieved and each year just rewrite them for the next year. Employees won't take these seriously.
- Don't write goals on annual performance appraisals that only get looked at once a year. All you've done is written something down that gathers dust. And you create a written record of expectations that may never be met.
Miranda Brookins is a marketing professional who has over seven years of experience in copywriting, direct-response and Web marketing, publications management and business communications. She has a bachelor's degree in business and marketing from Towson University and is working on a master's degree in publications design at University of Baltimore.