Broadening our Approach to Professional Goals

In several of the organizations where I have supervised employees, a common element of the performance evaluation process was developing goals for the next year.  Employees were expected to work with their supervisor to establish a set of goals to guide their work and professional development, and to assess progress towards those goals the following year.  Often these goals were aimed at new or change initiatives, like managing a special project or learning a new software program, or with the objective of improving performance, such as time management training or setting measures to focus attention on an area of weakness.  

Given that such goal-setting occurred within the annual performance evaluation process, it is no surprise that most goals focused on the current job and needs of the department.  But this approach often seemed short-sighted to me, as it was more about job development than career development.  Improving job performance made sense for newer or struggling employees, but what about my excellent performers and raising stars?  What should they be doing now to prepare them to advance beyond their current role and even the current department or organization?  

Image Description: Series of white doors with one yellow door.

Image Description: Series of white doors with one yellow door.

Recognizing this challenge, here are a few strategies I have used to broaden the scope of professional development goals for my employees:

  • Discuss long-term career goals, including encouraging an honest assessment of their potential and interest in growth within and outside of the organization and profession.  

  • Encourage development of soft and transferable skills, such as project management or professional writing.

  • Support supervisory and leadership training, regardless of their current role.

  • Encourage participation in networking opportunities and mentoring outside of the department and organization.

  • Support a project or activity that benefits their personal development or allows them to stretch beyond their existing role.

As supervisors, broadening our approach to setting professional goals with our employees should allow us to better support not only our top performers, but all members of our staff.  How do you use professional goals to support your employees?

Also published as a LinkedIn article.

Image by qimono from Pixabay

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