The start of a new year is often set aside for personal reflection. It’s an opportune time for business leaders to connect with their workforces to understand what each worker wishes to achieve over the next year. Supporting individual work goals and understanding their motivations can inform team goals and — when individual and business goals are aligned — can help drive the business forward.
Getting Ahead In 2022
To get ahead in 2022, still recovering from the past years, team and individual goals need to be set early on in the year. As Brent Cassell, Vice President, Advisory at Gartner, explains, “To ensure business performance consistently outpaces expectations, HR leaders need to get the goal-setting process right at the beginning of the year, rather than waiting to address the previous 12 months of performance at the end of the year.”
The Role That Managers Play
Managers play a key role in facilitating this process. They have insights into the business objectives, team goals, team strategy, individual performance (strengths and weaknesses), and individual goals. Overlaying all of this information will help workers develop goals that meet their needs and the business’s — and supercharge performance. Indeed, 91% of companies with effective performance management report that employees’ goals are linked to business priorities, and workers in positive learning organizations are 270% more likely to say their managers play a role in setting goals and creating development plans. With this in mind, how can managers effectively support their team’s goals?
The first step is in understanding skills: the skills your business strategy requires, the skills your team currently has, and what’s missing. Someone cannot reach their goal if they don’t have the right skills. The best support a manager can offer is providing ways for people to learn new skills and build on their existing ones. That’s why 74% of L&D leaders see upskilling as the most important tactic to rebuild their organisations this year.
The kind of skills needed by teams have been steadily evolving over the past few years, shifting from more technical, role-driven skills to cognitive and social skills that can be applied across different tasks. The most endangered skills globally in 2021, for instance, were:
- Advanced IT and programming
- Leadership and management
- Communication and negotiation
- Entrepreneurship and initiative-taking
- Project management
- Advanced data analysis and mathematics
- Critical thinking and decision making
- Adaptability and continuous learning
- Technology design and engineering
Developing such skills will likely require a mixed approach. Skills like critical thinking and adaptability cannot effectively be taught in a classroom.
Likewise, a massive outlay on learning resources may be off the cards for now. But there are plenty of other ways to upskill a team, from peer-led learning to TED Talks, online articles, podcasts, books, and more. Time is another resource, and it pays to set aside a regular time for people to work on their goals and skills. Google’s 20% time is a famous example of this.
Managers also have a mentoring and coaching role to play. Accountability through regular check-ins will help workers make progress on their goals, overcome any obstacles, and find ways for employers to support each worker’s development.
It’s worth noting that, in supporting your team to achieve their goals, a collaborative and bottom-up approach is needed. It should be individual-led, not directed from the top as careers are very personal things. Individuals won’t feel motivated to reach their goals if they’ve played little part in setting them. This requires managers to develop new skills in coaching and creating open dialogue with their teams about their skills, gaps, and aspirations. Business leaders, therefore, should consider how best to support and equip their managers to take on this task.
Sarah Danzl | Contributing Writer