Setting goals for employees is one of management’s fundamental responsibilities. Successful businesses have short, medium, and long-term goals, often for multiple projects at a time. If your team doesn’t have clear objectives and an awareness of the steps necessary to achieve it, there’s no way they can move the ball down the field. Likewise, if your team’s goals don’t align with company objectives, you’ll be stifling your growth.
Goal setting is changing, just like everything else in the 21st century workplace. It’s important for managers to adapt and integrate new strategies to keep up with competitors. This is especially the case for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), where the margin of error is tiny. Let’s take a deeper look at the challenges and opportunities facing these businesses.
Employee Goals and the Unique Challenges of SMEs
According to Fast Company, employees on teams with clear goals experience a 20 to 25% improvement in work performance. But many SMEs are operating in a resource-scarce environment. Let’s take a look at a few strategies you can use to keep your team on track.
Goal-setting Despite Limited Resources
Many companies are stretched to the limit in terms of resources. They have just enough talent, equipment, or cash flow to get by. For teams working like this, throwing more people at the problem is probably unfeasible. Managers need to work smarter and not harder to ensure their teams are crafting (and meeting) goals that matter.
Here are the first things to do when goal-setting with limited resources:
- Adapt to changing circumstances
- Optimize existing processes
- Plan carefully
- Outsource strategically
Adaptation is key in any dynamic business environment. This may mean everyone working longer hours, adding or eliminating meetings, or managers making themselves more available to the team. Everyone must also know how to pick what to focus on. Prioritizing goals is important, but it takes on even more significance when resources are depleted.
Time is precious, and you don’t want your staff focusing on objectives that are not mission critical. You may need to push some things on to the future to ensure your team sets goals that truly matter to the organization in the present.
How to Optimize Existing Processes
But before setting off to achieve initial goals, it’s good to re-examine your processes. When you go over how you do things before you begin, you can make a lot of changes to optimize your workflows. Furthermore, you should eliminate wasted time and make sure communication is smooth and there is nothing blocking your team from achieving their goals.
One of the first things you could do to reduce time-waste is to identify tedious but necessary tasks. These are things your team needs done, but that take up too much of everyone’s time. Examples of these tasks include scheduling meetings, compiling and editing reports, and looking up flights. For to-do’s like these, the best thing to do is to delegate them to auxiliary teammates.
Wing Assistant can help your team outsource tasks with ease. Assign unlimited tasks to your Wing Assistant VA during business hours and track their progress with Wing’s easy to use assignment queue. Rather than relying on a machine or impersonal third party, your Wing virtual assistant becomes part of your team and will respond within minutes.
Here are a few tasks a Wing general VA can do:
- Calendar management
- Research and reporting
- Travel booking
- Ordering supplies and expense tracking
- CRM input
Setting Goals for a Lean Workforce
Virtual employees can help bolster a lean workforce, but sometimes there’s no escaping the fact that it’s hard to do more with less. To help ease the strain of multitasking, you’ll want to collaborate cross-functionally to ensure goals are achieved.
Building and strengthening cross-functional partnerships within your company is actually one of the great benefits of limited resources. Look at this as an opportunity to flex your institutional knowledge and to learn new things from others in the company.
Sometimes, other teams are at capacity, and cannot lend a helping hand. Outsourcing to external providers, like Wing virtual assistants, should help. Often, VAs have experience in supporting more than one department. Wing assistants can help with basic bookkeeping, lead generation, content writing, and more. Our VAs are fully managed too, so you don’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty of hiring an assistant.
The Significance of Goal Setting in Small Businesses
Once you have your goals in sight, it’s time to plan. Good leaders will establish bite-sized goals for their teams, so small victories are always possible. Some goals may require more personnel than you have on-hand. This is a good opportunity to outsource less critical tasks.
Setting goals for employees drives productivity and contributes to overall success. But teams need to make sure they are setting the right goals. If it’s not specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART), why bother?
Some areas to consider when setting business goals include:
- Financial measures
- Customer relations
- Growth opportunities
Measuring goals financially is obvious. All businesses want to improve the bottom line. Wing Assistant can help your team save money. Hiring remote help lets your business save on expenses like on-boarding, health insurance, retirement benefits, and other costs accrued with full-time employees. Billing is month-to-month, with no contracts or commitments.
Compared to a temp agency or full-time staffing, Wing can be up to 80% quicker and cheaper. But goals should also be tied into satisfying your customer.
If a goal does not fundamentally improve the customer experience in some way, it’s worth reconsidering it. Wing VAs have experience in customer-facing roles like reception and sales, so they can be an integral part of your customer’s journey.
Finally, it’s important to consider the future when setting goals for employees. Do your goals set your business up for success down the line? Good goals help boost employee satisfaction and productivity. Rather than slogging through tasks that no one wants to do, your team will be eager to contribute.
Our operations team will even handle onboarding and training for your new hire, making the transition process smooth and seamless. This gives your in-house team more time to focus on the future of the business.
With a Wing VA onboard, your full-time employees will have more bandwidth to dedicate to management goals and set goals themselves. Let’s dig into how a manager can support employees who are setting goals.
The Manager's Evolving Role in Goal Setting
Workforces are more diverse than ever. Thankfully, it’s not necessary for managers to be an expert in different perspectives and walks of life. All that matters is that they care, and try to understand.
That’s why one of the key tenets of good management in the modern workplace is emotional intelligence. In order to understand and support a diverse team of employees, it’s important to develop a sense of empathy.
It’s also important to note that goal-setting is a skill that can be learned. Experienced managers can mentor younger employees and build effective goal-setting skills. This will set the company up for success in the future, as these employees will progress into leadership positions themselves.
Here are a few tips for mentoring new employees in goal setting:
- Clarify, organize, and prioritize goals
- Help team members understand what’s possible
- Develop a timeline and track progress
- Visualize and celebrate success
- Support teammates with strategies and tactics
As you can see, communication is a core skill when it comes to emotional intelligence. The Wing Workspace app makes it easy to communicate with your virtual assistant. This specialized app is included in the Wing experience and allows you to connect with your VA to share tasks and projects, files, screen-share videos, and much more.
Practical Steps for Goal Setting in Small Businesses
It can be fun to discuss the future and setting goals can be invigorating for any team. But there are a few practical steps necessary to make sure that your team achieves success.
Consider individual employee preferences and work styles
Not all employees respond the same to any company initiative. Goal-setting is no different. Examples of daily work goals include:
- Delivering a presentation first draft
- Attending a conference or meeting
- Completing a research report
- Setting aside time to think deeply
- Take a course
Having an outsourced assistant gives your employees breathing room to complete meaningful daily tasks. Rather than being interrupted to handle reception duties or do data entry, your core team can focus on building mission-critical skills.
Integrate wellness considerations into goal-setting
Managers who are aware of their employees’ priorities and protective of their time can make more thoughtful goal-setting decisions. According to research cited in the Harvard Business Review, about 30% of men and 50% of women will strategize ways to resist working long hours. This is done in an effort to preserve work-life balance. Rather than ignore the issue of wellness and work-life balance, why not build that into the plan and make decisions with that core value in mind?
Address generational differences in goal-setting preferences
Gen Z has 3 million less eligible workers than the millennial generation, and Gen-Alpha, the generation behind that, is expected to be even smaller. This means the competition for high quality entry-level workers will become even more fierce in the years to come.
Understanding the preferences and opinions of your younger team members (while also accounting for more experienced workers) is integral to your success as a manager. The best and easiest way to do this is to ask questions and get to know your employees better. Remember, each conversation is an opportunity for you to learn about their personalities and preferences.
How to Create a Supportive Environment as a Manager
In a post-pandemic world, employees are striving for a better work-life balance. The best employees want a workplace that is flexible and understanding that they have needs outside of the office. Now more than ever, managers also need to build a supportive company culture that acknowledges personal priorities. Take this into consideration when setting goals for employees.
Providing Resources and Tools for Success
Management teams should leverage AI and data analytics to gain insights into employee performance and identify areas for improvement. But this kind of research and development takes time.
If you require a more specialized approach, Wing Assistant has VAs with experience in marketing, sales & outreach, CSR and reception, or deeper industry-related experience in fields like real estate, e-commerce or web and app development. Scale faster and dive deeper into research, and your Wing VA can handle industry-specific tasks in the meantime.
Navigating Challenges in Goal Setting
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to overreach. It can be hard to develop ambitious goals with a small team. Potential challenges to goal setting include:
- Unreasonable or unattainable goals
- Burnout and mental health
- Company culture
- Lack of clarity
- Not reviewing progress
Setting goals for employees requires buy-in from the whole team. If your chosen goals are unreasonable or seem unattainable, that can be a red flag for many team members who will then disengage with the workplace or might even leave the company entirely. But unattainability is just one problem with goals.
Team burnout and mental health, especially in the wake of the pandemic, are important factors to consider before beginning goal setting for employees. Mental health is a particular concern in smaller work environments where employees can be stretched to do many more things.
Company culture can either be a net positive or a net negative for goal setting. Companies with a healthy culture have a strong mission and vision. Feedback is important and communication is key. Toxic company cultures have none of this, and goal setting often suffers as a result.
An often overlooked challenge in goal setting is clarity. Everyone on the team should understand the goal, why it is important, and how much progress your team has made so far.
Wing Assistant makes it easy to check in on your assistant’s progress. Wing VAs reply within minutes and you can also check in with your Wing Customer Success Manager to express your satisfaction with your experience. Any changes can be made quickly, and Wing Assistants are flexible to fit your team’s schedule and work arrangements.
Mastering Goal Setting for Employees
Goals are a roadmap for the future of your business. You should be aiming big, but don’t be afraid to call in support if you need it. Wing assistants are dedicated to your business. They work hard to learn and make your team a priority; and our assistants don’t work alone. Wing VAs participate in training and are fully managed. A customer success manager also oversees your account and we have a proprietary quality-management system to ensure success.
To learn more about how Wing Assistant can help your team achieve its goals, schedule a brief introductory call so Wing Assistant can learn more about your business. We’ll connect you with a Customer Success Manager (CSM), select a plan, set up your Wing account, and begin delegating tasks as soon as possible.