Leading a Goal-setting discussion

Managers and their direct reports need to collaborate in setting meaningful goals, tracking progress against those goals over time, and evaluating performance. Connecting an employee’s work with organisational goals is the top driver of discretionary effort through providing them with a purpose.

For the organisation, goal-driven performance management aligns employees within an organisation around achieving the strategic goals cascading from the vision and mission.

Goal setting discussions should occur shortly after performance reviews or if they are working on projects, as they move from one project to the next.

Review organisational goals

Before commencing a discussion with employees, you should review the organisation’s top-level objectives and how your own goals contribute to achieving business goals. In addition, you need to identify the goals that can be delegated to the team, and provide employees with the information required to draft their goals. You should advise the employees to complete the steps required to create a draft of their performance goal, strategies, and tactics before the goal-setting discussion.

  • Re-read the mission and vision for the company; understand the company’s strategic objectives and how their job supports them
  • Review their job description and any performance expectations for their role
  • Review any development areas from recent performance reviews
  • Review their current goals and aspirations
  • Identify any new overarching goals.

Work with your direct report to check the accuracy of the goals and assess the alignment of goals with those of peers and the department. In addition, ensure that the goals support the employees’ development goals based on any recent performance feedback.

Goals Grid

Another way to think about setting objectives and attainable goals is to think of goal setting in terms of four questions that comprise a Goals Grid.

  • What do you want that you don’t have? (Achieve)
  • What do you want that you already have? (Preserve)
  • What don’t you have that you don’t want? (Avoid)
  • What do you have now that you don’t want? (Eliminate)

article - leading goal setting discussion - goal grid


Utilise the concept of SMART goals in the goal setting process; this method ensures that the employee and manager both understand the goal by creating a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

article - leading goal setting discussion - SMART

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