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How To Set And Review Employee Goals After Covid-19​

Over the recent months, the workplace we once knew has changed significantly with COVID-19 and the introduction of furlough and a substantial increase of employees working remotely. One of the ongoing challenges is how to measure employee performance during this altered work environment and how to approach reviewing and resetting performance goals and KPIs. With 13% of workers (across all industries) on furlough, 43% working from their usual place of work and 38% working remotely, the workplace is not only fragmented; it’s been turned upside down.

Performance goals must be relevant to the business but also motivational to the employee. There are some specific questions employers and managers need to consider when reviewing old performance goals and KPIs and setting and measuring new ones.

Thank You To All Our Contributors

At the end of this article, you’ll find more excellent employee goal-setting advice from local business leaders.

Thank you to all the contributors for sharing your very helpful insights!

Ok, let’s dive into the ten tips now . . .

10 Questions Answered To Help You Set And Review Employee Goals After Covid-19​

Let’s get started . . .

1.  Should individual goals still align with the company goals?

Regardless of the pandemic, the old approach to aligning individual goals to company goals, mission and strategy must remain for consistency and success. If a company is lacking a clear strategy and goals, then it isn’t easy to guide and monitor employees.

2.  How do company and individual goals align?

Essentially a business needs to consider what it needs to achieve in the current climate and determine how each team can contribute and how each role within the company can contribute to the central strategy. Employers must confirm their strategic plan by reviewing where they are now, where they want or need to be and how they get there. Only then can department and individual goals be discussed.

3.  Why does this have to be done now?

It’s not been a typical year for any business, and unfortunately, there is no end date to the unpredictable situation. Employees need direction more than ever, and companies must spend time reviewing their strategy and ensuring employees understand their contribution to the bigger picture. Clear communication of goals can unite rather divide a company and provide with the sense of clarity during a period of intense change.

4.  How do department goals fit into the jigsaw?

Department goals are essential! A team may have experienced several changes throughout COVID-19 including furloughed staff, redundancies, remote working and team separation. Therefore, it’s likely that the strategic focus of the department will have altered and goals and KPIs will be different than pre-COVID-19.

For example, if roles have been made redundant, then individuals may be required to take on additional workload or tasks. Such a change will affect the remaining positions and individual goals. Managers must consider which department goals can be taken forward, which are no longer relevant and which should be put on hold and reviewed at a later date.

5.  How important is it to communicate with team members about their goals?

With so much change and uncertainly over recent months, employees need to feel included in the business, so it’s essential to be transparent with communication. During COVID-19, 59% of UK employees reported they weren’t getting any or enough information from their employer. Therefore, managers should communicate the changing business focus and strategy where possible with the team. Employees should be updated so they can understand the changing priorities and where they can contribute. Such knowledge also helps when managers have 1:1 conversations with each person about their goals.

6.  Should employees give their input to existing goals?

Absolutely! A good starting place for reviewing and setting goals is for each individual to review their existing goals and discuss with their manager which ones they think are still relevant. This will vary for each individual and is not a simple tick box exercise. It may be clear that some goals are no longer appropriate due to business change, and new goals can be introduced in light of team changes.

Furloughed workers may need to settle back into work before new goals are set and measured, but each company will take their own approach. Regardless, those returning from furlough should understand the business strategy and work with their managers to set new goals and review existing ones.

7.  Are there effective ways to confirm new goals to employees?

Some areas of a business may be more affected than others by the impact of COVID-19, and this will influence whether existing goals need to change. If a manager acts as a coach when discussing goals with a team member, it allows an open discussion about strategies to achieve goals and creates clarity. Done well, the conversation will allow goal setting to be cohesive and motivational rather than prescriptive by the manager to the employee.

8.  Is it okay to be honest about employee development?

More than ever, employees may be questioning why and how their job is important in the ever-changing working landscape. Often training courses are identified for employees to attend to develop them in specific areas. Such training may not now be relevant to the work required by the business or training funds may not be available. Managers must be open about such realities, and the changes necessary as any training freezes may be short-term and on the job training may be possible in some situations and more difficult in others.

9.  How much flexibility should employees be given?

It’s a personal approach for each manager and business as to how strict they are going to be regarding new goals and KPIs. New performance goals must take into consideration each individual’s current situation; otherwise, unfair and unachievable goals will be set.

HSBC’s Head of HR, Singapore, suggests that ‘Organizations must remain committed that assessments must be based on reasonable performance expectations taking into account COVID-19, and agreed upon by both managers and employees through frequent, open conversations based on individual circumstances, including consideration of real-life challenges and factors that might impact employees’ performance outcomes.’

Like any situation where performance is measured, there will be situations where flexibility will be needed. With companies experiencing unprecedented times, this may be the year to take a more flexible approach.

10.   When should goals be reviewed?

There’s no specific timeframe for reviewing goals, but timeframes must be realistic. If an individual’s job has changed significantly or new goals are set, they will require time to develop. In some cases, long-term goals employees once had may be replaced with short term, urgent business goals requiring less development but more speed or output depending on company need. As always, managers and team members should have regular 1:1 to discuss progress, issues, concerns and performance.

11.   Bonus Tip: How can performance goals be measured?

Once goals are amended or new ones confirmed, measurement criteria should be agreed as it would always be. For remote workers, 1:1 meetings can be used to discuss and measure progress just as they would be face to face. With employees still adapting to workplace, team and company change, it may be that goals and performance are measured more regularly and informally.

One leader at Cisco believes that ‘The fundamental currency of a performance management system should be frequent attention to the humans in our teams. We know that this is the most powerful thing to actually lift levels of performance over time.’

For example, managers and team members may have informal reviews every few weeks or months to measure progress and assess the goals and performance. This may be even more important for remote working situations or for those whose jobs have significantly changed as a result of COVID-19 and may enhance motivation and engagement.

No one could have predicted how much the workplace would change in 2020, and there is no sign of all workplaces going back to their pre-COVID-19 state. As employers adapt to the many challenges, employee engagement must remain a high priority. While it’s important to continue to initiate inventive ways of keeping remote teams connected with team building and social events, employees must understand what their company is seeking to achieve and how they can contribute. They must be part of the process of revisiting existing goals and amending them to fit the business, team and role.

Need Some Help?

COVID-19 has significantly changed the way we work, and these changes will continue to shape the workplace environment. 

If you’d like a little help or just an independent outside perspective on how to put this information into action, get in touch with us here.


Belinda Hunt – Cheltenham BID

Align individual goals with the company goals: Under the current circumstances many employees are feeling anxious about their job security and this can impact on productivity.

It is, therefore, important to make them feel a part of the company’s future, to understand how the development of their skills and knowledge will help build the organisation and take it forward.

Tim Watkins​ – Randall & Payne LLP

Although we are not all in the office, everyone has a part to play in establishing and attaining the company goals. Share the results, good or otherwise, and show trust in the team.

Jon Penn – Vistage

From my experience of running and working with SME businesses at the Board level, goal setting is often let down by poor communication. Even pre-Covid, when we could easily get face to face it was an issue. With people and teams working from home it becomes even more of a challenge.

My advice is to:

  • Allow enough time to discuss properly [estimate time and then double it!]
  • Use that time to cover
    • Context [why are we doing this?]
    • Outcomes [what do we expect?]
    • Milestones [when/what will happen along the way?]
    • Reporting [when /how will you share progress with me?]
    • Any Limits [typically time/money/team members]
    • Other factors/risks [we can only do X when so & so have done Y]
  • Have a written record [depending on the size this could be as little as a note to review at the next 1-2-1, or it could be a fully blown project plan], but always write it down!
  • Share it. A goal shared is a real commitment. Others will help [or maybe just get out of the way!]. People are really committed when it’s visible.

Alan Clark – Exponential Coaching Ltd

Now more than ever a company that has it’s strategic goals and vision aligned with individuals throughout the company, have a higher probability of success than companies that do not.

Classically alignment is created through performance agreements. A line manager has a conversation with a colleague, engaging them in the company plan in any given year and they then agree what contribution the colleague will make to the company plan.

This conversation forms the basis for performance and remuneration rewards including year-end salary reward and bonus.

If this is entry-level alignment then an enlightened company will have a team engagement strategy alongside performance agreements and company goals.

An engagement strategy has many forms and the best include weekly communications on company performance versus goals, regular in the moment feedback on individual contributions ( what is really valued and what can be developed) and regular discussions regarding career development.

Leadership is the key ingredient to both alignment and team engagement.

Company goals and alignment with individuals throughout the organisation involve change and change is the language of leadership.

Leaders, therefore, have a huge role to play in aligning individual contributions with company goals – lots of will and communication needed, and if this is consistently delivered the results are more than worth it!

Gary Jones – PHYSIO 206

It’s great to have a clear 5-year, 10-year, or even longer-term vision for your company. Without this what do you know you are working towards and why. For me, it is the “why” that should be the driving force behind every business owner.

Clarity is key.

However, to achieve those longer-term aims a shorter time period for reviewing your company’s goals should be adopted. In my opinion annual or even 6-monthly analysis of goals is too long a time frame. To ensure that action is taken and goals are prioritised, reviewed, and modified I would suggest working to a 12-week plan. This will give you much greater focus.

Jamie Martin – Correct Careers Coaching

Goals require to be set and reviewed frequently, i.e. on a monthly basis. When reviewing these goals, you also need to reset them – what has been working well? What is not working? During times of constant change, our strategy, actions, and motivators will update regularly. Therefore, the process of revisiting and resetting our goals will help continue succeeding and achieving within the current business environment.

Mike Goode – GB Solutions

Currently at GB Solutions we saw a 80% drop in revenue over last 5 months after a 25% yr in the increase in first 7 months. As a result we have restructured our business and given up the office to move to WFH model. In April I drafted an 18 month
plan to sit beneath our 5 year plan and since then have done 14 versions of the budget to account for furlough and other changes. I’m pleased to say we now have seen an increase in vacancies to fill. What I have learned is the need to have a good long term plan but review (and revise) in 2 week blocks. Last week we had no new roles, this week we have 8. My team know what the long term vision looks like but accept that there are so many short term uncertainties that nothing is etched in stone. For example one of our team lives in Wales and is currently in enforced lockdown due to family travel to France . Adaptability is the key. I also run headteacher performance reviews as a Chair of Governors and had to throw out all the old data driven performance targets since pupils have been away for 6 months . We are now focussed on attendance and closing the gap.

Need Some Help?

COVID-19 has significantly changed the way we work, and these changes will continue to shape the workplace environment. 

If you’d like a little help or just an independent outside perspective on how to put this information into action, get in touch with us here.

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