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Organizational Goal Setting in Healthcare: Best Practices

Goal setting is one of the most important activities for an organization. A culture that ensures all employees understand their roles, expectations, and why they are critical to organization success often find themselves well prepared to handle the many challenges we find in healthcare today. Unfortunately, many organizations do not spend time ensuring healthcare goals are aligned well with expectations of employees, and then wonder why they aren’t achieving their organizational objectives.

We know that every discipline in our health systems is mission critical in providing patient-centered excellence. Ensuring that every team member who wears our employment badge is competent (and ultimately confident) is a supreme responsibility we face as healthcare leaders. Once those competencies are clearly outlined, then an ongoing Performance Management system is key to ensuring employees understand the importance of their work, and the quality of their performance.

Best Practice Goal Setting provides:

  • Organizational direction and discipline to ensure that everyone is focused on the same objective.
  • Effective utilization of workforce and organizational metrics to ensure appropriate resources, and to reduce the likelihood of delays.
  • An opportunity for the organization to achieve an advantage over the competition.
  • Clarity to the workforce regarding what is expected of them.

The steps to Best Practice Goal Setting vary, but typically include the following:

  • Create goal statements. This statement describes what the organization is trying to accomplish.
  • Setting Goals. Many organizations utilize SMART objectives when goal setting. The utilization of this approach has been proven to align organizational strategic initiatives with goals that can be obtained.
    • Specific. A goal is specific when it provides a clear description of what is to be accomplished and is easily understood.
    • Measurable. A goal is measurable if it is quantifiable. Typically you start with baseline data, and then set a target towards which you can progress to, as well as utilization of external benchmark data. Consistent metric ranges should be used.
    • Achievable. Goals should be achievable. This does not mean that goals should be easy, but should be challenging and able to be accomplished.
    • Relevant. Relevant goals should be appropriate to and consistent with the mission and vision of the organization. Short term goals should also be relevant to the longer, broader goals of the organization.
    • Timely. Finally, a goal must be timely and include a starting and ending point. Often goals have intermediate steps, which can be assessed as the individual progresses.
  • Basic Rules. For Leaders, 70-80% of the evaluation should be tied to objective SMART goals; and 20-30% should be tied to organizational values and standards. For employees, 70-80% of the performance evaluation should be tied to values, standards, and job functions, with the remaining 20-30% tied to departmental goals. Each individual should not have more the 5-8 total goals, with each goal category weighted between 10-50% each.
  • Goal vs. Tactic. Don’t get confused. A goal is the strategic objective you seek to achieve. A tactic is the action or strategy you plan to utilize to achieve the goal. 

By setting goals in the right way we ensure that, when followed, the map actually leads to the exact performance outcome desired by the organization, no matter what distractions may be encountered on that journey.

This post excerpts an article in our recent eBook, Using Goal-Setting and Performance Management to Improve Outcomes. Download the complimentary eBook here.

Contact HealthStream to speak to a solutions expert learn more about our courses related to healthcare management.

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