Strategic Ways To Create Employee Performance Goals

Helping Your Employees Succeed

Every company doesn’t just want successful employees – they need them. Corporate success is dependent on individual employee success. A key strategic objective for employers should be setting and helping employees reach goals. Every individual employee’s success contributes to the larger success of the company. That is why employee development goals should be priority items for every company.

Employee performance and goalsThe more you can motivate employees to meet goals, the better your corporate culture is going to be, and the more successful the entire organization will be as well. Goals are important because they provide a focus for employees, they show them what their responsibilities are, and they give them a larger purpose within the organization. Goals also improve accountability and serve as a motivator. When goals are in place and are measurable, it ensures that employees’ performance can be tracked and changes can be made as necessary.  

With that being said, employers tend to have issues when it comes to knowing how to set goals and what their role should be in ensuring employees achieve objectives. How much input is too much? Will too much involvement backfire and stifle the potential success of an employee? How do you set the metrics and then provide the tools for an employee to be successful on their own? You want to set goals that are concrete and measurable, but also don’t stifle creativity and innovation, so how do you balance these concepts?

These are all commonly asked questions, and the following is an outline of things to keep in mind as you set employee performance goals.


Have Clear Company Goals

The biggest objective of setting individual employee goals should be to improve the success of the entire organization. Before a company can start outlining specific employee goals, they need to be clear on organizational objectives. Then, they can make it clear how employees fit into that larger framework. See if some of these leadership and management training videos can help you define organization and employee goals and objectives.

The idea is creating a big picture and then putting together the pieces for employees to be a pivotal part of that.

Differentiate Between Performance and Development Goals

Once you have clear-cut organizational goals in place, it’s important to make the distinction between performance goals and development goals.

Performance goals are specifically related to the position of the employee as well as their individual responsibilities. They are also put in place with regard to higher-level goals. On the other hand, development goals are more about learning, and they’re focused on career advancement for that employee.

This doesn’t mean that setting performance goals shouldn’t include some elements of learning and training, but the training is more likely to be related to the overall success of the company, as opposed to the employee’s personal career development.

Follow the SMART Approach

One of the most commonly used approaches for setting goals is called SMART. SMART stands for Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Time-based. The idea of SMART-based goal setting isn’t new – it’s been around since the early 1980s, but it’s not always broadly implemented.

The following are the elements of each aspect of SMART goal-setting:

  • Specific: When you’re setting goals for an employee, whether they are performance-based or development-based, they need to be as specific as possible. When using the SMART approach, it’s recommended that you look at each goal as if you’re writing a mission statement. It should include the who, the why, the what and the where.
  • Measurable: Measurable is one of the most important parts of setting employee goals in a company. If you can’t measure the success of employees, there is no point in creating the goals. As an example, if you’re training employees as part of goal-setting, link their training activities to measurable on-the-job activities, and then set milestones that indicate how well they achieve both the training and on-the-job objectives.
  • Achievable: Achievable is relevant to training as well. If you’re asking your employees to develop new skills, whether they’re hard or soft skills, as part of an objective, make sure they’re achievable. Employees need to be given the right tools and resources to achieve any objectives outlined for them. One of the biggest benefits of using e-Learning training in a corporate environment is that it’s relatively easy and cost-effective to create customized training based on the employee and the specific goals they need to achieve. With regard to being achievable, goals need to be challenging, but not so much so that they’re unrealistic.
  • Relevant: The idea of relevance was touched on a bit above. For a goal to be worthwhile, it needs to be relevant to something larger, such as an overall business objective.
  • Time-Bound: If you set goals that aren’t measurable or aren’t based on specific timetables, they’re not really They’re more like suggestions. Giving time constraints not only provides more motivation for employees to achieve a goal, but it makes measuring success easier.

Provide Flexibility

Mentioned earlier was the fear some company leaders have when it comes to setting performance or even development goals. They worry that in doing so, they’re going to dampen creativity or innovation. Innovation is one of the most coveted things in any business, particularly given how fast-paced and competitive the business environment is. A  lot of organizations shy away from setting specific goals because they don’t want to cause stagnation in their employees or keep them from achieving their creative potential as innovators.

While this is an understandable concern, having goals is also so important. So how do you balance the two?

For most companies, the objective is setting very specific and measurable goals, but not necessarily outlining how the employee should get there. If goals are met, employers should aim to stay out of the processes that led to that achievement. This lets employees find the best, most innovative and streamlined ways of doing things, but business strategy is still a guiding force. Having both specific objectives and creativity in an organization is possible.

Finally, make communication a top priority as well. You want to be providing your employees with regular feedback, and you want to be willing to hear what they have to say as well. Don’t leave opportunities for anyone to feel like they didn’t know what was expected of them.

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