3 Steps for Better Business Goal Setting at Work in a Fast-Changing World

Published: Aug 16, 2021
Modified: Apr 08, 2024


From American Management Association

As business continues to rebound from the pandemic, most companies expect people to get back on track—fast—and deliver results. To make that happen, leaders and their teams must establish clear business goals. Yet, with rapid technological advances, the increasing prevalence of remote or hybrid teams, and ongoing changes in workplace systems, procedures, communication, and more, people often fail to achieve those goals because they lack the essential skills needed.

Just a few years ago, in its 2018 The Future of Jobs Report, the World Economic Forum predicted that 54% of all workers would need to update or replace their skillset by 2022. Just last month, in July 2021, American Management Association (AMA) surveyed its members and customers on the topic of New Skills for the New Workplace. Nearly 80% of respondents reported that the skills required to do their job effectively have changed in the past 2 years. Clearly, developing workers’ skills to keep up with fast-changing workplace realities should be a priority for every company that aims to stay in business.

While under pressure to deliver results, how can leaders know whether their people have the skills it takes to meet the goals they’ve set? To avoid unrealistic expectations that inevitably lead to failure—not to mention the frustration of pushing team members to accomplish the impossible given their current competencies—leaders should make a regular practice of searching for and evaluating gaps in employees’ skills.

Analyzing skills gaps doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. From the experts at AMA, a world leader in professional development for nearly a century, here’s a simple and quick three-step process for conducting a skills gap analysis to improve your goal setting at work:

Step One: List the skills needed for future goals.
Make a list of all the skills your team needs to achieve a specific future goal. For example, your goal might be to improve customer service. Meeting that goal might call for certain technical skills; sensitivity in dealing with people across a diversity of ages, races, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds; nimble and creative problem-solving; and outstanding business conversation skills.

Step Two: List your team’s current skills.
Next, write down your employees’ current skills that support this goal. Your team might have solid sales skills, for example, or be adept communicators, virtually and verbally.

Step Three: Make an action plan to close skills gaps.
Finally, list the specific actions to take in order to close any skills gaps. Action items for your team might include: Attend a diversity and inclusion workshop. Hold a brainstorming session to spark innovative solutions to customer problems. Upgrade CRM software and train employees in how to use it.

Like any goals you set, development goals to close your team’s skills gaps should be SMART.

SMART stands for:

Specific: Goals should be concrete and not vague. Make sure that they are highly detailed.
Measurable: Make sure you’re able to track performance for your goal, whether that’s some type of criteria or dollar amount.
Attainable: Is this skill in your power to achieve? Or do you need additional training first?
Relevant: Your goal is in line with wider business goals and it fits in with the larger picture.
Timely: Have a firm deadline. It is a good idea to begin with some of the short-term goals first.

Your organization expects results—and your team needs the best skills to achieve them. In today’s fast-changing world, doing a skills gap analysis at least twice a year will bring new skills into your workplace and keep your team well equipped and feeling confident. Goal setting at work is not only vital to effective teamwork but also excellent for career growth.

About AMA

American Management Association (AMA) is globally recognized as a leader in professional development. For nearly 100 years, it has helped millions of people bring about positive change in their performance in order to improve results. AMA’s learn-by-doing instructor-led methods, extensive content, and flexible learning formats are proven effective—and constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of individuals and organizations. To learn more, visit www.amanet.org.