Goal Setting Objections: What To Expect and What To Do About Them

New year = new goals.

That’s true for you and the people who report to you. Most of your employees will be comfortable and reasonably engaged with the whatever goal setting flavor you’re trying to sell them on, but the reality is that some folks might flat out object. When the people we manage don’t jump on board with the enthusiasm we hope for when we talk goals, you need a plan to get the conversation back on track.

Generally, objections to goal setting will come in two flavors. Here’s what they sound like, when you should expect them, and what to do about them:

“I’m not the goal-setting-type.” If your  or your company’s management philosophy/style involves employee participation during the goal setting process, this objection will come during your request for your employee’s participation. It really signals their unclear related to the broader purpose of goal setting at your company or on your team. They liken goal setting to new years resolutions.

What To About It: Since you’re really asking them to prioritize accomplishing a set of clearly stated objectives and track progress. handle the “this isn’t my style” line by politely and directly stating that you’d like them to play a role in setting up goals because you value their input. If they still give you push back, let them know they’ll still be evaluated against goals— whether or not they offer their input.

“That goal is not achievable.” This objection will come when you’re laying out a final list of goals with employees. It signals that you’re employee is feeling overwhelmed in the face of the (big) task you’re asking them to own.

What To Do About It: Consider whether their concern is valid, and if you’re certain that the goal is reasonable, pour a little sugar on by explaining what strengths, skills, experiences, and resources they have at their disposal making the goal achievable. If they’re still feeling overwhelmed, spend a little extra time breaking the broader goal into smaller, actionable steps. If you’re asking them to innovate, remind them that you’re not asking them to develop a solution by tomorrow. Advise them to spend some time chewing on it and agree to meet and discuss at a later date.

Sometimes you’ll have to put your sales hat on and sell them on the idea that the goal-setting process, or a specific goal, really is worth the time and energy. Good thing you’ve got the skills to make it happen in a way that will make your employee feel confident and while still getting the performance you need.

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