For people to feel engaged, they need to find purpose in what they are doing. Setting goals keeps the drive in them and stretch goals allow them to push themselves beyond their limits. Stretch goals focus on extremely difficult or extremely novel challenges that require innovative approaches; it is not asking everyone to work harder and longer hours. Stretch goals are vital for employees’ personal growth.
How to use stretch goals to inspire, stimulate, and boost performance?
1. Prioritize setting stretch goals in prime moments
Stretch goals can be perceived in completely opposite ways depending on the moment it is communicated. Timing is crucial in this process. The best moment to set stretch goals is when employees have completed a succession of successful projects. They tend to be more resilient, committed and stimulated for new challenges. Their eagerness to aim for results beyond their current capacity is greater during this prime time.
For those with average performance, the same goals may be viewed as threats or menaces, and employees will instantly assume a defensive position. This may lead to self-doubt and result in them performing worse than before.
The most difficult challenge companies and managers face with stretch goals is picking the right time to communicate them.
2. Pay attention to employee growth
While choosing suitable and specific goals is critical, how companies and managers measure performances determines whether employees feel inspired or discouraged. Stretch goals, by definition, are extremely difficult to achieve. Therefore, employees are put outside their comfort zone when working towards stretch goals.
This enhances their personal development as they acquire new skills and force themselves outside their comfort zones. Performance is then measured by how they face obstacles and the new competencies gained in the process.
Companies that emphasize on employee growth will see them being more dedicated to their work and are capable of pushing themselves to greater heights.
Plus, employees’ approach towards their daily activities is the backbone of the company’s performance.
3. Offer plentiful support and celebrate individuality
When employees are provided with the resources they require and adequate support, they are able to surpass their own capabilities and surmount tremendous difficulties.
Understanding the value of each employee and how their expertise can contribute to the company significantly changes how managers expose stretch goals to them. Every employee has a different way of seeing, facing and solving challenges. It is for managers to know how to deal with their unique skills to bring out the best in everyone.
Employees are also able to achieve results that are beyond their expectations when companies and managers know how to expose stretch goals in the right way and at the right moment.
Although employee performance depends primarily on their own willingness and determination to learn and grow, managers play a huge role in knowing how to break down large goals into smaller targets to keep employees engaged and guide them all the way in their performance cycle.