6 Reasons Why You Should Set Quarterly Goals

6 Reasons Why You Should Set Quarterly Goals

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How often does your organization set goals? As the working world increasingly transitions to a continuous performance management model – or as we prefer to say, a “continuous employee success” model– businesses are shifting to setting quarterly, rather than annual, goals. And with good reason: Analyst Josh Bersin finds that setting goals quarterly vs. annually can net businesses 31% greater ROI from their employee success process.

We’ve boiled the argument down for you: Here are 6 ways quarterly goals make your people  (and your company) more successful.


1. Shorter-term goals are less likely to be derailed

In today’s business environment where things can change overnight, 12 months is a really, really long time. And while you should always keep your long-term goals and the big picture in mind when developing business OKRs, any specifics you plan out a year in advance are likely going to change. So ironically, investing a lot of time in  cascading action plans up front maybe a poor use of your time and resources.

The tl:dr: It’s a lot to ask individuals to set goals for an entire year, especially considering that the organization’s goals will change over the course of 365 days. Instead, ask team members to plan personal goals for the next quarter. This way, there’s less chance of a major company shift derailing their plans — which saves your organization money in employee hours.


2. The condensed time frame helps people to set smart, realistic goals

If you’re familiar with SMART goals, you know the value of setting goals that are realistic. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. The framework asks: Is this a valuable and realistic goal to set?

It’s tempting to sit down at the start of the new year and plan out your roadmap. But it’s difficult to grasp how long a year really is. Each person has their own perception of time, so there’s likely to be a lot of inconsistencies between individuals’ goals, with some aiming too high and others too low.

So zoom in on the calendar. Have your team members think about what they can realistically achieve success with in three months’ time, then help them plan out their action steps. This makes it much easier to map out a smart (or SMART) plan that will get them to the finish line.


Want more on SMART goals? Read:

How to Write and Use SMART Goals at Work


3. Quarterly goal setting creates an opportunity to celebrate little wins

With annual goals, you either win or lose, so to speak, once a year. This means you’ve got just one opportunity to use goals as a motivational tool each year. And once that window closes, it’s shut for 12 months.

Instead, by setting quarterly goals, you create 4 annual opportunities to celebrate wins, encourage collaboration, and offer recognition. Boost this even further by making goals public and social, enabling peer-to-peer recognition, highlighting successes in all-hands meetings, and more. Need more? Learn how regular personal recognition drives engagement.


4. Managers get a clearer view of individual progress

When we’re stuck in the day-to-day activities of our jobs, it can be hard to see progress. But short-term quarterly goals create a natural stopping point, allowing us to take stock of how far we have – or haven’t – come. Staying on top of goal success can help managers redirect people who are stalling in their progress and recognize those who are on track to celebrate big wins with their goals..


Having trouble meeting goals?

The 4 Secrets of OKRs That Actually Work


5. Each person can build on their successes

Mentally, it’s much easier to tackle a series of smaller goals than it is to achieve one big one. That’s one of the great things about quarterly goals. People can think about what they really want to accomplish in a year’s time, and then set four smaller goals that will get them there.

If they are progressing more quickly than they originally planned, they can reach even higher with their end goal. If they’re not hitting their milestones, quarterly goals give them a chance to adjust at different points through the year. That’s much more positive and productive than having nothing to show for their work come December. (We break this down further in our Definitive Guide to Setting Goals at Work.)


6. The entire organization is empowered to think about development all year long

When goals are woven into the fabric of everyday activities, development becomes an important part of your company culture. Quarterly goal setting keeps development top of mind for team members year round. It encourages them to think strategically about their careers and what they need to accomplish their personal goals. It also creates an opportunity for employees and managers to talk more openly about what success looks like for them and what they can do to grow in the coming months..


Go for the goal with WorkTango

There’s no doubt about it: Quarterly goals can help empower  your people to succeed – and that feeds your organization’s  success too. WorkTango makes it even easier.