When to Discuss Goals with your Direct Reports

As a manager, you know that discussing performance goals with your direct reports is important. But when, and how, should you have these conversations? Here are four key situations that should prompt you to schedule a 1-on-1 to discuss goals with your direct reports.

Scenario #1: Creating Goals

You should start talking with your direct reports about their goals during the goal creation stage. If you meet to discuss goals before they’re finalized, your employees are more likely to feel like they have a voice in setting their goals, which creates more ownership and motivation.  This first conversation will help you align with your employees on the purpose of their goals and how they contribute to the organization’s success.

Questions to ask:

  1.     Does this goal allow us to measure and track progress in a meaningful way?
  2.     What are the first steps to making progress on this goal?
  3.     What obstacles or risks stand in the way of achieving this goal?
  4.     How does this benefit the team and organization?
  5.     Who needs to be involved? (stakeholders, decision-makers, etc.)

Scenario #2: Getting a Goal Back on Track

When your employees’ goals veer off track, you need to play the role of coach to and identify the obstacles they’re facing. and make sure they have the support and resources they need to get back on track. 

Questions to ask:

  1.     Why do you think this goal is behind?
  2.     What can you start, stop, or keep doing to reach this goal?
  3.     How can I support you? What resources do you need?

Scenario #3: When Plans Change

Sometimes new or existing goals change in priority as things change within an organization. Make sure employees know why things are changing and discuss the impact of that change on their goals and prioritize.

Questions to ask:

  1.     Why is this goal increasing or decreasing in importance?
  2.     Who needs to be informed that this goal is put on hold?
  3.     When can we expect this goal to be a priority again?

Scenario #4: The Goal is Achieved

Your job isn’t over when your direct report achieves their goal. Take time to celebrate a job well done and the effort they put in along the way. You can also use this conversation as a learning opportunity to find out what went well and what could have been done differently.  

Questions to ask:

  1. What are you most proud of?
  2. What unexpected roadblocks did you come across?
  3. What did you learn and how will you apply it to future goals?