The Importance of Creating Development Goals with Employees

The goal creation process typically centers around what the employee will do for the organization. What is expected of any employee over a certain stretch of time, and how will their productivity impact other team members? What steps can the employee take to contribute to the organization’s success?

Often, however, it’s just as important that managers flip the script in the goal creation process and focus on what the organization can do to support the employee.

Developmental goals are vitally important to both the success and engagement of the employee. If employee skills and knowledge remain stagnant, they may not grow or accomplish new things or be motivated to push themselves. Setting developmental goals encourages employees to expand their horizons and improve, enhancing their skill set and the team in the process.

Here are four reasons development needs to be a part of every employee goal conversation:

Give employees a voice. Rather than simply telling an employee what they should improve on, managers need to listen and understand where an employee would like to grow. Developmental goals open the lines of communication and give employees a platform to explain their vision for the future. They might be interested in how their work affects other departments, new technology that could help their performance, or developing new skills. These learning experiences benefit both the individual and the organization as a whole.

Build previously-undiscovered muscles. If an athlete performs the same workout every day, they’re not going to improve. They will maintain their current level of fitness, but they won’t get faster or stronger. The same is true with any skill. Our minds need to be stretched in different directions to continue growing in new and different ways. The more tactics and opinions an employee is exposed to, the more ideas they can generate to increase productivity and update stale processes. Use developmental goals to open employees to ideas they hadn’t previously considered.

Stay up to date on industry changes. The state of business is constantly evolving as new techniques, practices, and technology are introduced. Employees should be empowered to keep up with the latest trends. Encourage them to embrace new technology, expand their education, and increase emotional intelligence to keep your business moving at lightning speed.

Increase buy­-in and engagement. Employees want to know that they’re valued as people, not just another cog in the machine. When managers go out of their way to ask employees about their developmental aspirations, it shows they are recognizing the employee as an individual. This gives employees a sense of great value, increases engagement, and pushes them to grow and work more efficiently. Managers should be very intentional in recognizing individual employee skills and suggesting specific areas of growth based on the employee’s interests. They must also be open and willing to listen as the employee shares areas in which they would like to improve.