Goal Setting at Work: 3 Things to Discuss with Your Boss First

goal setting work boss

When setting goals at work, it’s important to include your boss in the process.

All too often, professionals set themselves up for failure because they’ve created goals that are unrealistic, unsupported, or unaligned with the bigger goals of the organization or team. To avoid that problem, don’t set your goals in a vacuum. Instead, talk it out first with the one person who knows best—your boss.

Here are three important questions to help you guide the discussion.

1. Are the numbers realistic?

If you’re following the SMART goal methodology (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound), you should be attempting to attach numbers to your goals. For example, you may set a goal that you’d like to close 5 sales per month or improve your processing time for a particular task by 20%.

Before committing to those numbers, find out if your boss agrees that they are realistic. Remember, you should be aiming for something that is achievable with effort. It’s great to set stretch goals that really push you past the point of comfort, but you don’t want to verge into impossible territory.

Your perspective on this might be different from your boss, who has a wider frame of reference from which to pull. He or she may be aware of upcoming events or larger organizational changes, for example, that will impact your ability to meet certain numbers. 

Also read: Set Goals You Can Really Achieve

2.  Will I have access to the necessary support and resources?

Your ability to achieve your goals has a lot to do with the support and resources available to you.

For example, if you set a goal to expand your expertise in a certain area, and to do that you need to attend a specific conference, your boss will need to approve the time away from the office and potentially the financial investment. Without those things, your ability to reach your goal may be significantly reduced.

By opening up this discussion, you will be better prepared to adjust your goals if needed or explore alternative resources you may be able to tap.

3. Are these goals aligned with your goals for me?

Finally, make sure your goals are aligned with your boss’s goals for you. Remember that your boss has goals of his or her own, and you may play a part in their vision for the future.

If you’re aiming for a promotion, for example, it’s important that your boss knows that and agrees that it’s the right path for you. On the other hand, if your boss is hoping to move you up while you’re angling for a transfer to another department, you may have some conflict to sort through.

Ultimately, your career path is your own, but managerial support is crucial. You don’t want to set goals that your boss can’t get on board with.

Also read: The Biggest Mistake You Can Make When Setting and Working Towards Goals

That being said, there are times when your personal goals may not be aligned with your boss’s. For example, if a top performer wants to leave the organization, it’s unlikely the boss will support that goal. But in the meantime, the top performer should set appropriate goals to ensure continued success now and set himself up for future success as well.

Setting goals for yourself in the workplace is an essential part of career development. By discussing your goals with your boss, you’ll improve the likelihood of attaining them. You’ll demonstrate commitment to your own growth, and your boss will be more invested in you.

About the Author

Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach, corporate trainer and public speaker who believes work can be a nourishing part of the life experience. Her website, Eat Your Career, is devoted to this mission. Chrissy is currently a contributing career expert for U.S. News & World Report and the author of the book, The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up and Start Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life!), available on Amazon.