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How to Set Clear Employee Performance Goals (with Examples)
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Recruiting & Hiring

How to Set Clear Employee Performance Goals (with Examples)

One Minute Takeaway

  • Aligning individual employee goals with the company’s vision drives engagement and performance.
  • Effective performance goals foster accountability, development, and feedback..
  • Performance goals fuel engagement by providing clarity and purpose.

According to a Gallup poll, 50% of workers lack clarity on what is expected of them at work. However, when employees feel engaged, they develop a sense of care towards the company, going above and beyond to achieve shared goals. This also leads to job satisfaction. One powerful way to do this is through the implementation of effective performance goals.

Employee performance goals offer employees a clear understanding of what is expected from them, providing a roadmap for success. When employees are aware of their performance targets and how their efforts contribute to the company’s broader objectives, they develop a deep sense of connection to their work. This sense of purpose motivates employees to bring their best selves to the table.

Why is it important for managers to set performance goals for employees?

By aligning individual performance goals and tasks with the organization’s overall vision, employees become highly engaged. And every leader knows that employee engagement directly correlates to business metrics including client retention, profitability and growth.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll found engaged employees are 21% more productive than non-engaged employees. However, many businesses reported in a poll that they are not effectively engaging their employees.

goal setting for employees
Source: People Management, Perception Vs. Reality

This doesn’t have to be your story. You can start engaging your employees by challenging them to set both professional and personal goals. Your goal alignment strategy is up to you and you can determine it based on what works best for the employee’s job position. Set weekly or monthly goals. Perhaps quarterly will do. For professional development goals, determine what is appropriate for the job, but try to also list at least one goal that’s tied to personal self-development.

Either way you slice it, evaluating individual team members on strategic goals and viable facts—not just by “feelings” increases the chance of success for both employees and supervisors.

Employee Performance Goal Tips & Examples

Here are 7 tips for powerful employee goal setting that can change the way your organization operates.

  1. First, identify your company strategy
    Everything starts with an overall strategy—all other performance objectives will follow this. It can be helpful to use a goal-setting framework like the OKR (objectives and key results) method when defining goals with employees. But even if you use another method, it’s important to ensure business leaders and managers are aligned on which objectives are important. They are the ones who’ll be communicating the vision to the organization.
  2. Build cascading objectives
    Map out how objectives will cascade across the organizational structure. You’ll want to clearly identify the performance objectives for each team and how they relate to overall strategy.

    Here’s an example:
    • Company-Level Objective: Increase market share by 10% in the next fiscal year.
    • Sales Team Objective: Increase sales revenue by 15% through targeted marketing campaigns and expanded customer outreach.
    • Marketing Team Objective: Generate 50% more leads through digital marketing channels and optimize conversion rates.
    • Product Development Team Objective: Launch two new product features to enhance customer satisfaction and attract new clients.
    • Customer Service Team Objective: Achieve a customer satisfaction rating of 95% by implementing proactive support measures and reducing response time.
  3. Connect Goals to Individual Tasks
    Identify specific attainable goals for employees to make future evaluation more objective and remove ambiguity. And, start with the end in mind. For example, you want your sales reps to schedule two appointments each week. So, identify two to three behaviors that are likely to result in reaching that outcome. Now the employee knows where he is expected to go as well as how to get there.
  4. Document goals or integrate into your performance management system
    Be sure to document goals in writing, both formally and informally. This is how you ensure accountability. The formal process might include a standard form, a performance development plan or other assessment, specific timelines, checkpoints and occasional updates. Informal documentation might take the form of notes written from regular development conversations that support the formal process.

    Clearly outline responsibilities and make sure employees have the competencies and resources required to achieve their goals. Employee actions and behavior should be judged according to these objectives.
  5. Use the SMART model
    It’s important to coach employees on how to set objectives. Employee goals and company goals should always be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. By following this model, individuals and teams gain clarity on what needs to be accomplished, can track progress, set realistic targets, align goals with broader objectives, and establish clear deadlines. Ultimately, using the SMART model increases the likelihood of success, maintains motivation, and allows for effective monitoring of goal achievement.

    Here’s an example of a SMART goal for a long-term care employee:
    Goal: Complete a certification program in geriatric care within the next 12 months.

    Specific: The goal clearly states the desired outcome, which is to complete a certification program.

    Measurable: A measurable goal is quantifiable, as it specifies completing the certification program within the next 12 months. This allows progress to be tracked and evaluated.

    Achievable: The goal is realistic and attainable, considering the employee’s capacity to dedicate time and effort to the program, as well as the availability of suitable certification programs within the given timeframe.

    Relevant: The goal is relevant to the employee’s role in long-term care, as it focuses on acquiring specialized knowledge and skills in geriatric care, which can enhance their ability to provide high-quality care to elderly residents.

    Time-bound: The goal has a specific time frame of 12 months. This provides a deadline for completing the certification program and ensures a sense of urgency and accountability.
  6. Communicate progress
    Update your organization regularly on how well employees are meeting objectives. Encourage managers to take a proactive role helping employees achieve their goals. If one employee is struggling, you can help identify the root causes and even re-align goals. Yes, sometimes goals do change. Even so consider creating a one-pager for each employee that lists the associate’s goals, personal-development strategies and the organization’s overall objectives. Place the one-pager in a spot that’s visible to the employee and refer to it during one-to-one meetings—not just during the annual performance evaluation period.
  7. Tie goals to recognition
    When employees meet their goals, they should be rewarded and recognized. It’s about positive reinforcement but more importantly it shows appreciation for their contribution. For tips on employee recognition ideas, we’ve got you covered.

Help for your Employee Goals & Company Goals

Goal setting and performance management are critical factors that support employee engagement. And an engaged workforce leads to improved products and services, happier customers, greater employee satisfaction and a better bottom line for your organization. Paycor’s HR solutions enable employers to handle goal setting and performance management responsibilities efficiently and effectively.