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How I Convinced My Employee To Set Tangible Goals

Chris Steele

Engineering Manager at Affirm

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Problem

My company was going through a transition phase where we were restructuring. During this time, I inherited several employees, including one who was very tenured. He had refused to participate in defining goals for the quarter. This was very difficult because we undertake performance assessments and award bonuses by examining whether our employees have met their goals. I was unsure whether or not to give him a bonus, as he had achieved some significant things over the quarter but didn't meet the requirements our executive leadership team had set up for getting one.

Actions taken

I had sat down with this employees manager previously to ask him what was going on. However, I had neglected to sit down with the employees I was inheriting to get to know them. This employee had a very particular way of communicating, so I spent some time learning about his communication style and his concerns about setting quarterly goals. I took two to three sessions of sitting with the employee and hearing his side of the story to get to the root of the issue. The outcome of this was that not only was I able to get him to set quarterly goals and give him a bonus based on them, but the conversation I had with him allowed our company to think more about the catalysts for more tangible goals. This resulted in us switching from specific goals for individuals to the use of OKRs, as this ensured everyone's goals were in alignment.

Lessons learned

Reach out to your employees early, especially when you are going through a period of transition. Survey the mindsets of the people around you, especially those you are likely to inherit as employees. Work out what they want to accomplish and what's on their mind.

"I was unsure whether or not to give him a bonus, as he had achieved some significant things over the quarter but didn't meet the requirements our executive leadership team had set up for getting one."

"The outcome of this was that not only was I able to get him to set quarterly goals and give him a bonus based on them, but the conversation I had with him allowed our company to think more about the catalysts for more tangible goals."


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Chris Steele

Engineering Manager at Affirm


Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyPerformance MetricsPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionSkill Development

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