Does Your Goal-​Setting Process Foster Accountability and Trust?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Too many managers treat goal setting as a one-​and-​done task. If that’s how you’re establishing expectations for your sales reps, you could be in for major disappointment as the year progresses. To really make a difference in how team members work, you need to change the goal-​setting process. 

Goals that are set once a year and never revisited become a distant memory for employees, and all-​too-​often, their managers. When it’s time to check in and you bring up the forgotten goal, the excuses start. Before long, employees are blaming everyone else for the missed deadline.

Modifying Goals

In her recent Forbes article, Sally McGhee focuses on accountability. We all know that good managers can help team members succeed by checking in regularly on goals that were set at the beginning of the year. Team members are even more likely to succeed if you routinely modify those goals in the context of what else is happening in the organization. The speed of commerce today can make January’s goals seem obsolete if your organization is merging or is unexpectedly rolling out a new product in July. Don’t be afraid to change an employee’s goals to align with new organizational metrics.

Building Trust

Your team members also need regular reinforcement from you on how they are doing to meet goals. This reinforcement should come in the form of verifying that employees understand their goals and how to achieve them. When they run into roadblocks, they need to know they can come to you for help. Flexibility and support on your part helps you build trust with team members.

When Managers Model Accountability

In some organizations, leaders claim to want accountability. But they’ll also be the first ones to point the finger when something goes wrong. This attitude weakens trust and credibility. You can set a positive example by accepting responsibility for what has gone wrong. The next important step is to offer a solution on how to fix the problem.

When employees personally witness you modeling this kind of behavior, they’ll be more willing to be accountable. In this culture, McGhee remarks that, “more solutions are being offered and fewer excuses are being made.”