Employees, managers missing growth opportunity by not discussing goals

Millennial workers at a table
Many workers are not taking the opportunity to discuss goals with bosses.

Most employees are missing out on a key growth opportunity—getting feedback from their leader.

Some 93% of workers said goal setting is important to them, but only 51% discuss goals with their managers and 11% never even bring up the subject, a survey found.

“People are perhaps intimidated about doing it and might not want to discuss their performance,” Bill Driscoll, president of Accountemps, which conducted the survey, told FierceCEO.

“They are missing out on opportunities to determine if there is anything they can do to meet their goals,” Driscoll said.

And it works both ways. There is an opportunity for the manager to collaborate with the employee.

A good manager “is engaged in their subordinates, willing to give feedback and to listen and take feedback,” Driscoll said. If your boss is standoffish, “put yourself out there.”

Younger employees place more emphasis on work-related performance goals, the research found. Almost 7 in 10 millennials (69%) surveyed thought goal setting was very important, compared to 55% of baby boomers.

As for gender, more men (60%) than women (40%) discuss performance goals with their manager at least monthly. Additionally, 17% of female workers never bring up the subject, compared to just 5% of their male counterparts.

Some tips for setting—and achieving—professional goals from Accountemps:

  • Retreat and refocus. Goal setting is not something you can accomplish during a coffee break or in a busy office. Remove yourself from distractions to really think about your current job and desired career path.
  • Be detailed. Identify a small number of goals to tackle at once. As you settle on objectives, make sure they are specific, quantifiable, realistic and timely. Always set a deadline to keep yourself on track.
  • Go long, then short. Start with the destination and then work backward. First determine your long-term goals, then establish a series of smaller tasks to help you reach them.
  • Enlist your manager's help. Employers want their employees to achieve professional success and job satisfaction. Partner with your boss to set goals that align with department and company objectives, and discuss career paths and next steps during your regular meetings.
  • Put them in writing. Record your goals somewhere so you can review them regularly and hold yourself accountable. This will help you stay on track and ensure the work you're doing is aligned with your objectives.