List of Employee Performance Goals and Objectives
— November 19th, 2021
Writing employees' performance objectives can be an annual challenge for managers. But it should not simply be a tick-the-box exercise. The most effective performance goals need to motivate employees.
Here's our 9-step guide and list with examples to get the most out of your employees with smart performance goals.
The Ultimate Guide to employee communication goals and KPIs for HR management
With SMART goals your employees can see immediately what's expected of them; vague, general objectives such as "increase sales in Q2" fail to provide adequate instruction or, in fact, motivation. Such general targets can also display your lack of interest, which in turn could have a knock-on effect on your employees.
On the other hand, SMART goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and have a set Timeframe. They give your employees real goals to meet that are achievable yet challenging. Here's a useful SMART goal template that you can adjust and make your own.
Be clear and specific with each goal. As Zig Ziglar said, "a goal properly set is halfway reached". Use action verbs that indicate what you want your employees to do: increase, reduce, win, develop, etc.
Make sure to include specific details or targets that will give your employees something to work towards. Shelve vague objectives such as "improve customer service", to "increase customer satisfaction from 45% to 60% by Q3".
Made to measure
It's important that your employees can easily see how they are progressing toward the goal. General objectives can lead to misinterpretation and potentially unhappy employees. So, be clear from the outset how each goal is going to be measured, which means both parties will know if the goal has been met.
A good rule when writing each goal is to include definite figures, whether that's 60%, $10,000, or by a multiple of 7, for example. To ensure transparency it's also important at this stage to inform employees what the source of the measurement will be, whether it's a customer survey, a sales report, or the organization's balance sheet.
Ensure goals are attainable
The goals you set need to be possible yet challenging. It's all about finding that perfect balance: too difficult and employees will simply give up, too easy and you will fail to motivate staff. Give your employees goals that are attainable but also offer them an opportunity to shine. Bear in mind, goals can be a great motivational tool and in meeting challenging objectives employees can get a great sense of achievement.
Finding this perfect middle ground might not happen immediately but by measuring progress and then evaluating an employee's final performance you will be able to make any tweaks that may be necessary.
The 'R' in the SMART acronym could also mean relate or realistic; your ultimate objective is to ensure that each goal you set is relevant to specific employees, realistic within their role, and relates back to the larger organizational goals.
While it's ok to be creative with goal setting, writing SMART goals is all about establishing objectives that make sense to your employees and their day-to-day role.
Make a timeline
When writing employee goals you will need to outline a time frame within which each goal needs to be achieved. By setting a timeline (and milestones along the way) employees are clear on what needs to be achieved by what date, no timeline and the goal could evolve into an ongoing task that can't be measured correctly and has no impact.
Make sure when devising each objective that you're clear about what can be achieved within a specific time. Again, this might be something that will need to be tweaked but by creating marker points within the goal, i.e. mini objectives within smaller time frames, you can chart progress and identify if the original timeline is realistic.
Get in step with the business
SMART goals work best when they are aligned with the overall organizational objectives. So before you start writing your employee goals, take a look at the latest business objectives: do you need to reduce customer churn, do you need to meet increased demands for popular products, has a competitor edged ahead of you?
Use these organizational goals as a starting point: what goals can you set that fit in with the business.
When devising employee objectives make sure you schedule in performance evaluations that happen within the goal's time frame. By evaluating employees' progress during the timeline you can monitor what is being achieved (or not), discuss employees' headway towards the objective, and make any necessary tweaks. This ongoing evaluation also means that goals don't disappear or get put on the long finger.
Being open to tweaks is an important part of any goal setting. As we've already said, you might not get everything right the first time. But for your objectives to resonate with employees, it's vital that you remain flexible.
This is where the evaluation and adjustment steps combine: evaluation shows you if there are issues or stumbling blocks with your set objectives and you can then re-adjust if appropriate.
Top 10 Employee Performance Goal Examples
- Collaboration goals - revolves around employees offering support to their co-workers in achieving their own goals.
- Professional development goals - helps employees develop their knowledge, skills, and capabilities.
- Self-management goals - teaches employees to make decisions independently and work on their own intuition.
- Soft-skills development goals - focus on how employees interact with colleagues, solve problems, and manage their work.
- Creativity goals - cultivates creative thinking in employees contributing to their personal development as well as that of the company
- Emotional intelligence goals - provides employees with the ability to process their emotions to make them capable of making sound decisions
- People management goals - teaches employees how to be a team player, communicate efficiently, and develop the skills to motivate others.
- Negotiating goals - results in employees being capable of solving conflict and finding common ground.
- Virtual communication goals - keeps employees up to date with technological advancements in the digital workplace and ensures they are capable of adapting to evolving communication channels.
- Decision-making goals - enables employees to become good decision-makers and leaders.
Why are employee performance goals important?
Goals work as a way to align teams, managers, and employees around a common purpose and objective. Organizational alignment is a key differentiator between high-performing and low-performing companies.
When your employees understand your company's overarching goals, they can align their personal ones to coincide with these targets and aid the organization's efforts in achieving its core goals.
Setting direction is an important step for leaders to take and having employee goals in place is a great way to achieve this. When you set expectations through the form of goals, your team has no doubt about what they need to achieve.
Goals mean workers have a target, something they can put their efforts towards achieving. In this way, employees can spend less time and effort focusing on activities that are not helping them achieve these goals.
Goal setting as a process is deciding what needs to be accomplished and devising a plan to achieve the desired results. Goals prompt your employees to create a plan and with a solid strategy in place, the chances they will meet the intended outcome increases significantly
It can be all too easy to put off work until tomorrow when there is no goal on the line. When it comes to SMART goals, though, you are providing your employees with clear targets that will motivate and fuel them.
Such goals energize and inspire employees and often force them to devise new and novel methods of performing, think outside the box, and overcome challenges along the way. Keep in mind, goals are more effective in motivating employees when they receive feedback on their accomplishments from leaders.
As an employer, you need to consistently measure your business performance so you know what’s working and what isn’t. Having goals in place makes it easier to determine which of your organization's targets are being successfully met and which are not.
The Ultimate Guide to employee communication goals and KPIs for HR management
Employee goals and objectives for collaboration
- Give and receive feedback from peers or other team members in order to perform the task.
- Share credit for good ideas with others.
- Acknowledge others' skills, experience, creativity, and contributions.
- Listen to and acknowledge the feelings, concerns, opinions, and ideas of others.
- Expand on the ideas of a peer or team member.
- State personal opinions and areas of disagreement tactfully.
- Listen patiently to others in conflict situations.
- Define problems in a non-threatening manner.
- Support group decisions even if not in total agreement.
Employee goals and objectives for professional development
- Improve time management skills.
- Obtain a new certification or degree.
- Attend networking events.
- Complete a leadership training course.
- Improve communication skills in the workplace.
- Increase responsibilities and duties in the workplace.
- Apply for a promotion within the organization.
- Attend relevant workshops.
- Manage your energy better.
- Develop a growth mindset.
- Learn to resolve conflict.
Employee goals and objectives for self-management
- Be more productive.
- Learn to adapt.
- Utilize self-activation and self-drive.
- Take ownership and accountability.
- Become a better decision-maker.
- Manage time efficiently.
- Focus on handling distractions.
- Practise creative thinking and problem-solving.
- Improve organization skills.
- Communicate precise information, to the right person, at the right time.
- Manage stress.
- Develop accountability.
Employee goals and objectives for developing soft skills
- Develop a learning mindset.
- Expand knowledge and understanding.
- Provide opportunities for practice.
- Offer feedback.
- Adapt to workplace changes.
- Build positive relationships.
- Step outside your comfort zone.
- Practice active listening.
- Find online courses.
- Communicate often.
- Work on critical thinking skills.
Setting employee performance goals and objectives should be a common practice within your organization. By setting such goals, you have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of your employees and the potential to uplift your entire organization’s bottom line.
Not only do performance goals play an important role in leaving employees feeling engaged and motivated in their current roles but they will stand to them throughout their careers. In the absence of performance goals, employees may struggle to feel inspired and confident in their roles at the organization, greatly impacting the standard of their work and the business’s overall performance.
When it comes to writing a performance goals and objectives list, you should think of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable Relevant, and Timeframe) goals. The goals should also be divided into separate categories with different intended outcomes. These include goals that will help employees develop their collaboration, decision-making, people, and negotiating skills.