• Riikka

How to set work objectives that people care about


Wouldn't it be refreshing if performance objectives weren't just a tick box exercise to please the boss, but something employees are fully invested in and motivated by, for their own sake?⁠

It takes a bit more crafting up front, but makes for so much more engaging and meaningful experience at work. Not to mention really firing up performance.⁠


First I should say, as much as possible, people need to set their own objectives. You can discuss and sense-check them as a manager, but the thinking and planning needs to come mainly from the employee. That's why you hired them. There may be some exceptions like fairly junior-level employees who are new to the business; or a crisis..


Setting your own objectives requires that people are fully aware of the status and aims of the company.⁠

1. LINK TO COMPANY GOALS - People need to see the connection between what they do and the business direction to feel their work matters.

2. PERSONAL PURPOSE - what are they on a mission to do, why did they join the company? Their objectives need to relate to this and allow them to live that purpose.⁠ It may be as simple as what they expected to do and achieve at your business. Or as far-reaching as their overall life goals.

3. LEARNING - by and large, people shouldn't need to have many separate learning goals, but the main job should allow them to learn and develop in ways they want to.


Both 2. and 3. often don't happen ⁠organically but take some thinking out. Not just What I'm going to do but How.

  • How will I run this project so that I get more exposure to financial reporting?

  • How will I plan this campaign so that I use my creativity?

  • How much time will this feature build take when I want to practice doing it via a different programming language?

  • How can I build connections with senior Operations professionals as part of developing our business continuity plan?

When you dig deeper in goal setting this way, you will expand people's ability, quality and motivation to perform - because they care, not because you told them to.

If you're interested in a sample workshop on objective setting this way, get in touch!

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