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Establish Expectations, Outline Goals and Measure What Matters


By Jonathan McClellan | July 2, 2015 | Blog Posts | Engage Employees

Regardless of what field you’re in there is always one common variable: the need for effective communication. It is the cornerstone of relationships and, unsurprisingly, fiercely important to the workplace.

Did you know 31 percent of people have quit a job within the first six months? One of the leading causes of employee unhappiness, and ultimately turnover, is a lack of clear goals. In order for employees to find success, feel engaged and take active roles in the company, they need to have a clear understanding of the business and their positions within it.

Retaining employees requires time and effort. In fact, 63% of CEOs surveyed are concerned about the availability of key skills and 93% recognize the need to change their strategy on talent. For the majority of employers, their top business challenge remains hiring and retaining talented employees. Consider for a moment the resources you put into attracting top talent. Interviewing and onboarding can be a substantial process, but remember, the search doesn’t end once you land a high-potential candidate. The process of building and sustaining engagement has only just begun.

With nearly 20 years of experience in creating engagement and recognition programs for a variety of businesses, I have found that the most effective way to engage new employees is to clearly align goals and objectives early and often. Real-time conversations and feedback provide the bedrock for future success. The following three-step communication process is key to retaining employees that are not only engaged, but also happy.

Establish Expectations Early: What does success mean to you? To them? How will achieve it together? Without clear definitions, it is difficult to provide the resources and direction to facilitate that success. From a basic job description to identifying future growth opportunities, your employees need this information to build commitment and engagement. And as a leader, when you see them meeting and exceeding those expectations, offer timely and frequent feedback about why it is important, what it means to your team and how it makes you feel to see them succeed.

Deconstruct Large Goals: Communicating measurable goals is crucial to building positive relationships with your employees. One of the best ways to engage your employees at this stage is to make these goals meaningful to the individual. Align shared or team goals with the unique strengths of individual team members. Break down large goals into smaller, measurable behaviors and actionable activities that can be revisited every couple of weeks during your 1:1 meetings. Use those opportunities to recognize and celebrate progress when you see it.

Share and Celebrate Measurable Results: Measuring success can be challenging. Yet, your employees look to what gets measured as the leading indicator of what id most important. In order to prevent confusion, publicly measure, track and share what your organization correlates to success. Holding regular team meetings is a proven way to effectively share results, improve relationships and ensure work is on target. Team meetings are an underutilized forum for celebrating the team’s accomplishments and shinning a spotlight on the people who are responsible for the group’s success. Don’t miss out on these valuable opportunities to engage the entire team.

The overarching necessity to keep in mind is to cultivate relationships that sustain your employees’ passion, energy and commitment over time. Focus on recognizing your employees based on their successes. Acknowledge them for not only meeting your previously outlined expectations, but also for surpassing them. It is all about encouraging an effective, two-way communication cycle.

As Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Empower your employees from the start with clear, concise and ongoing communication, and reap the benefits of an engaged workforce.

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