Understanding Employee Performance Goals and Objectives

by Team RallyBright in December 14th, 2021
employee performance goals

Every position in any industry has certain requirements and expectations. For a company to succeed, employees must meet these expectations at performance levels that produce measurable results. Yet, a simple job description isn't enough to explain what makes an employee highly competent in their role. So, how can CEOs, company managers and business owners identify productivity issues, and put employees in a position to work as a team to meet the company's goals and promote its core values?

Creating employee performance goals can help. Employee performance goals are short-term objectives that an employee is expected to meet within a specific period of time. They can be designed to track the progress of an individual employee or a team. Performance goals help employees understand what is expected of them. They can also be used to measure performance in relation to bonuses, pay raises and promotions. 

While employee performance goals provide a variety of benefits for individual employees, teams and entire companies, they can be tricky to get right. Here, you can learn more about how to set specific, attainable goals that lead to defined results.

Employee Performance Goals: Examples to Use

To be effective, employee performance goals must be specific and attainable. Creating goals that only offer a vague direction, have no timeframe or are impossible to achieve can backfire, leading to rapid turnover or no change at all. For instance, setting a goal to "increase productivity" or "make more sales'' offers direction but provides no parameters. 

These examples provide reachable goals that can help employers measure success and give employees the incentive to excel in their role.

  • Productivity Goal: Increase the number of units produced each day by 5%.
  • Efficiency Goal: Implement a software system that automates manual tasks within a certain department by the end of the quarter.
  • Customer Satisfaction Goal: Examine customer reviews submitted within the past six months for connections and devise a written plan to eliminate target issues.
  • Educational Goal: Devote 30 minutes each day to an online course that correlates with a specific job role, and receive certification by the following year.
  • Compliance Goal: Learn the elements of basic cyber hygiene for employees and put them into practice within three months.
  • Communication Goal:  Practice empathy skills over the next month by listening with an open mind and validating other perspectives. 
  • Revenue Goal: Increase sales by 15% within the calendar year.

SMART Goals

Creating goals to be accomplished during a certain time frame that is relevant to a specific job role is a good way to get started with performance goals. Still, if you add elements to make goals more specific and tailor them in a way that aligns with company goals, higher success rates are achieved. So-called “SMART” goals are a popular way to create specific employee performance goals.

SMART goals are more than an intelligent way to create performance goals within a company. They have these five important features to help promote success:. 

Specific

In order to be effective, your goals need to say more than "do better." Instead, create a specific goal that defines what will be accomplished to advance an organization. To create a specific performance goal, ask these questions.

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Why is this goal important to employees and the company as a whole?
  • Who is responsible for overseeing and achieving the steps of the goal?
  • What department(s) are involved in the goal?
  • What resources will be required?
  • What steps will be taken to achieve the goal?

Measurable

Adding a quantifiable measurement makes your goals even more specific. More importantly, it gives employees a target. Numbers define the scope of a goal. Whether you define a goal by units sold, increased production percentages or a projected number of satisfied customers, the scope of your goal should be defined in solid, measurable numbers. These questions can be used to determine what makes the goal a success.

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • By what definition is the goal complete?

Attainable

Creating an impossible goal sets you up for failure. Would any company like to double sales in the coming fiscal year? Sure, but it's likely an unattainable goal for most. Here's where you give your goal a reality check and ensure it's something that can truly be accomplished. Note that making a goal attainable doesn't mean it should be easy. To define an ambitious yet attainable goal, ask these questions.

  • Is reaching this goal possible with the number of employees involved and resources required?
  • How can I achieve this goal successfully?

Relevant

A relevant goal is important to the employee and also aligns with the goals of the company. Begin by defining what the goal achieves at a company level. What does that achievement mean for individual employees? If the company goal doesn't provide individual value, consider adding a benefit for those that reach the goal. The relevance of your goal can be tested with these questions.

  • Will the outcome be worthy of the effort?
  • Is this the right time to incorporate this goal into the company workflow?
  • Does the goal match company efforts in other areas?
  • Am I the right person to attempt the goal?

Time-Bound

Setting a goal with no target date for completion creates a process that lacks initiative. Defining a date for completion gives you another quantifiable measure to determine the success of the project. A deadline for goal success should take into consideration the time involved in the requirements as well as when the goal would become irrelevant. Ask these questions when deciding on a practical deadline.

  • What steps must be accomplished to complete the goal?
  • What can I accomplish daily to work toward the goal?
  • Will additional training be required?
  • What can I accomplish in six months? A year?
  • When will the goal no longer provide the intended benefits for the company?

Employee Development Goals for Your Team

Setting individual performance or development goals for employees is part of the process of reaching long-term company goals. Yet, setting development goals for an entire team can have more of an impact on performance. Team goals focus on the strengths each employee can bring to the table and the communication skills required for a collaborative effort. Defining these goals often utilizes the SMART goals strategy and goes a step further to outline how the team goal can be carried out by the individual members and collaborative efforts of the group. Creating team performance and development goals impacts performance in the following ways.

Increased Transparency Clarifies Company Goals and Increases Engagement

Would you be surprised to learn that your employees don't know your company's goals? It's actually a common problem. A Gallup finding stated that only 27% of employees strongly believe in their company's values, and less than half strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different. Creating team goals that reflect the goals of the company helps employees better understand the company as a whole. Teams working toward a goal they support become more engaged, which offers substantial benefits for any business. 

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to his or her organization. Since engaged employees care about the company, their work is driven by their passion to achieve its goals. Companies with engaged employees are 21% more profitable and see 41% lower absenteeism.

Collaboration Helps Drive Individual Success

Goals that are initially formed at a team level naturally create space for individual performance goals to fit under the same umbrella. When these individual goals contribute to a team effort, one person's success is everyone's success. This collaboration means that employees are more likely to share assistance and encouragement instead of participating in ruthless competition.

Teamwork Highlights Individual Strengths

When team members work together toward a specific goal, they become more aware of their own strengths and the strengths of those around them. As team support and camaraderie grow within a group, each individual is directed to the job they do best and the entire team works at peak performance.

Team Performance Goals

Like individual performance goals, team performance goals should be specific with measurable outcomes. Consider how these examples can be modified to fit your team.

  • Gain customer interaction by creating a plan to increase followers on the company's top 2 social media sites by 1000 within 6 months.
  • Reduce overtime by 20% within three months.
  • Ensure that 100% of the team is trained on more efficient technology within 6 weeks.
  • Onboard at least 10,000 customers each quarter.

Design SMARTer Employee Performance Goals 

Without specific goals, employees have little motivation to improve. Even with hopes of increasing salary or getting a promotion, employees without a clear direction are stuck spinning in their tracks. Team performance goals increase engagement, promote collaboration, and can be used to increase the company's bottom line. Unfortunately, team leaders often have limited visibility into the factors impacting their team's performance.

The SMARTer way to set team performance goals is to set objective measures for your employees. Objectives are not subjective. They are measurable, time-based actions that provide managers with real data on how each team member contributes toward the larger company mission.

RallyBright provides a number of performance development tools to help your team members better understand their personalities and likely behaviors in different situations, and pinpoint the areas where they can make high-impact improvements. Request a free demo to learn more about easy-to-use tools to measure, diagnose and improve the collaborative behaviors within your company.

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