Personalized goal setting is essential for high performance at work. However, with the proliferation of online environments providing more opportunities to work outside of the office, many managers may wonder how best to proceed with goal setting for their staff.

In this article, we will introduce the basic structure of how to set personal goals, as well as examples of specific goal setting. Appropriate goal setting motivates members and leads not only to improved performance but also to career growth. If you are a manager who has trouble setting goals, or simply needs a refresher, please read below. (2-3 minutes read)

The four components of goal setting 

Goals depend on your industry, type of work, and company situation. However, there is a basic structure and once you have the basic structure in place, you will be able to set flexible goals by simply adjusting them each time according to the growth phase of your department or business.

Specific achievement criteria and goals

When setting goals, it is necessary to clarify the criteria for achievement or goal of what is to be achieved. By working backwards from this goal, specific action plans and evaluation methods can then be determined.

It is essential for goals to be linked to the overall goals of the organization. No matter how much a person is convinced of the goal, it is meaningless unless it is connected to his/her contribution to the organization. However, it is important to note that simply providing organizational goals may result in imposing them on the individual, which may lower the individual's motivation and, as a result, prevent him or her from demonstrating performance. 

Set clear deadlines 

Goals without deadlines tend to be haphazard, and the initial goal will become a "blip on the radar. In most cases, goals are set on a semi-annual or quarterly basis in order to tie them to appraisal evaluations, but for greater speed, it is also effective to set more detailed goals on a monthly or bi-weekly basis.

By setting a clear deadline, you will be able to create a concrete action plan, and if progress is not up to par, you can make necessary improvements.

Clear Action Plan

Once the specific goals and deadlines have been clarified, an action plan is needed to clarify what will be done to achieve them. No matter how clear the goals are, if the action plan is vague, you will not know how to act, and you will never achieve them.

For example, if you set a goal of "viewing the sunrise at the top of Mt. Fuji on New Year's Day," write down all the necessary elements to achieve it. Specifically, research the route, prepare equipment, run 3 km a day to improve your fitness, do a test climb on another mountain, and so on.

By making a specific action plan necessary to achieve your goal in this way, you will have a clear idea of what you need to do, which will make it easier to take action and have a clear image of what you can achieve.

Regularly Check Progress

Goal setting is not done once. We regularly check progress and evaluate the action plan. If progress is not made, we thoroughly examine what caused it. The initial action plan is not always correct. There may be times when we actually try something and it doesn't work out. In some cases, it is necessary to revise the action plan.

However, basically, it is not a good idea to revise the goal downward just because progress is not good. Even when things are not going well, it is important for individuals and organizations to think through how they can achieve their goals. This will lead to individual and organizational growth. It is important to change the means but not the goal.

What is the SMART rule for goal setting?

The "SMART rule" consists of the following five elements: 


Be specific and clear goals that anyone can read and understand, e.g., increase the number of new clients, reduce customer complaints, etc. 


Quantitative (numerical) values to measure the degree to which the goal has been achieved e.g., 0 new companies, 1 to 5 companies, 6 to 9 companies, 10 or more companies, etc. 


Realistically achievable, not just a hope or desire


Is the content relevant to the goals of the department and the company?


Clarify the deadline for when the project will be completed, e.g., by the end of the second fiscal year, by next quarter, etc. 


Goal Setting

How to support your staff in setting and achieving their goals

The support of the manager is essential in setting and achieving staffs' goals. Managers promote work by involving members in achieving the goals set by the company and the department, but because each member has different strengths and values, it is necessary to provide optimal support for each individual.
This section describes the support needed to set goals for members.

Respect his/her feelings, not impose them.

Instead of imposing goals on members, set goals that are appropriate for each individual, while respecting his or her feelings. Unilateral imposition of goals can lead to low motivation and poor performance due to excessive pressure. Furthermore, if this becomes a chronic organizational culture, it can lead to increased turnover and mental health problems.

Emphasize that goals are challenging but achievable

Although we respect the feelings of the individual, if we easily give priority only to the opinions of the members, we will end up with goals that can be easily achieved. Easily achievable goals do not lead to organizational or individual growth.

Sometimes it is necessary to dare to set high goals. By thinking about how to achieve them and focusing on high-priority tasks, a highly productive work style can be realized. The experience of accomplishing these goals will lead to career growth for the staff.

And no matter how lofty the goal, the managers themselves never give up and say, "We will achieve it. It is important to say, "We can do it.

Provide appropriate advice and training

Managers are expected to motivate members to recognize their tasks as their own, and to provide appropriate advice and training to help them achieve them.

Avoid making inappropriate comments that could be perceived as power harassment or referring to personal circumstances unrelated to work.

However, if a member is having difficulty concentrating on work due to childcare, nursing care, or other personal life concerns, it is important to respect the feelings of the person who has asked for advice and provide a comfortable working environment.


Support the achievement of goals tailored to each individual

In order to continue to grow as an organization, it is essential to set appropriate goals for each member. In addition, since setting action plans in accordance with goals is only a means to an end, it is necessary to be flexible in making revisions while monitoring progress, rather than sticking to a plan or a means once set.

For this reason, it is important to have a dialogue with each and every member. Although direct communication opportunities are decreasing due to the spread of online tools and remote work, try to support more concrete goal management by implementing the goal-setting methods in this article.

Robert Half, a highly specialized recruiting firm, introduces talented bilingual professionals to foreign and global Japanese companies. If you are a company looking to hire top talent or a manager struggling with employee development, please contact our Talent Solutions Specialists to get the conversation started.