Managing a Multigenerational Workforce: Goal Setting

The success of any organization is defined by its results.

In order to achieve a desired result, an organization must set goals for each department and individual. But how does an organization set goals that inspire and engage each generation in the workforce? This question is increasingly important, as it is anticipated that by 2020, up to 70 percent of the workforce will be comprised of millennials.

[bctt tweet=”Generational differences are among the most talked-about concerns of HR leaders” username=”reflektive”]

Communication styles, culture fit and accessibility of tools can all get affect an organization’s ability to achieve goals. But generational differences are among the most talked-about concerns of human resources leaders right now.

This article expands upon the premise that employees want to be valued for their contributions. They want their ideas and opinions to be — they want their work to make a difference. When we keep these concepts in mind, goal setting for a multigenerational workforce should be easy.

HR’s Role in Facilitating Goal Setting

In the past, organizations were hierarchical and information flowed from the top down, on a “need-to-know” basis. Goals were set by senior-level executives and pushed down to managers and department heads. Today, we work in the information age. Goal setting is now a collaborative process that must feature at least some measure of employee input.

Collaborative goal setting increases “buy-in,” or engagement, of the employee. Successful organizations today need to be responsive and agile. In addition to technological and economic changes, organizations face social and demographic changes as well.

As a result, human resources must be a strategic partner in cost cutting and increasing efficiencies. Collaborative goal-setting allows the employees to give input into how to accomplish these goals.

Human resources will need to train managers on how to facilitate a collaborative goal setting process.

Human resources need to train managers on how to facilitate a collaborative goal setting process. A standard process will also make goal setting simpler and more efficient. For example, human resources can train groups to use a file-sharing tool like Google Drive, iCloud or DropBox, so teams can view updates to the goal document in real time. File-sharing is an efficient way for supervisors and executives to keep track of goal management.


To ensure accountability, goals should be developed in a SMART format.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Specificity ensures everyone understands what the goal is. Being able to measure progress toward the goal provides motivation for the team or individual. Attainable goals can be challenging, but they must remain realistic or the team’s morale may suffer. And finally, it is important for goals to be time-bound, rather than open-ended, to ensure that the tactics are executed in a timely manner. Human resources should train the workforce on what constitutes a SMART goal.

Individual and team goals need to be tied to the organization’s overarching goals. Each organization has a financial goal or growth goal to hit each year. The goals set by individuals or teams should directly contribute to the overall goals of the organization. When individual or team effort is directly tied to the success of the organization, employee engagement increases.

Individual and team goals need to be tied to the organization’s overarching goals.

Finally, goals should connect to individual development goals. In many organizations human resources asks employees to create yearly business goals and then create individual development goals. This often results in employees having two documents to keep track of; a business plan and an individual development plan.

If the individual development goals are tied into the business goals, employees will see the value of developing specific skills. Employees will subsequently grow in their roles and may even prepare themselves for a future promotion.