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Managers failing staff by not setting specific goals

Only one in five (21%) employees in the UK reported being set specific goals by their managers, according to new research published by Sodexo Engage.

As part of a study into managerial effectiveness in Britain, 3,000 UK employees were asked about their experience of setting goals with their manager. The survey found that 38% had never been set specific goals or targets, and a further 41% said their manager had set them “loose” targets.

These findings put a big question mark over the effectiveness of many of today’s managers and their focus on staff development. Over half of those surveyed (51%) admitted they have a maximum of four one-to-one meetings a year.

This lack of a hands-on approach is directly impacting the way employees see their managers. When asked, nearly half of those surveyed (47%) said they did not consider their managers good role models. Worryingly, more than four in ten (44%) also admitted they did not trust their managers to make the right decisions or treat them fairly.

The research shows how important it is for managers to set clear goals with their staff. Aside from helping a business meet its objectives, setting goals will boost employee engagement. Employers should therefore see these findings as a chance to build a business that puts staff development at its heart. 


“Our research shows that managers risk losing the respect and trust of their team unless they take a more hands-on approach towards employee development. We know people work best when they’re given goals to achieve, but many managers are failing to take this on-board. Working with employees to set SMART goals will help keep them motivated and give them a clear understanding of their role in the team. It also gives managers the perfect opportunity to recognise and reward employees for great work. It’s a win-win for both employer and employee. A business is only as good as the people it employs, and happy employees create better working environments.”