Performance goals enable employees to plan and organize their work in accordance with achieving predetermined results or outcomes. By setting and completing effective performance goals, employees are better able to:
Without setting clear performance goals, employees may feel aimless about prioritizing and completing their work and disengaged in their jobs, and teams can become mired in confusion, misunderstandings, and conflict. For both individuals and teams, the absence of effective goal setting substantially reduces productivity.
Although focused attention on performance goals typically happens during the annual evaluation process, goal-setting really pays off when employees monitor their goal progress throughout the year, discuss the status of goals with their manager on ongoing and regular basis, and propose and make adjustments to remain on track toward completion.
Effective goal-setting starts with an analysis of all aspects of the goal, including:
The following list of questions will help employees and managers conduct a thorough analysis of a goal being considered:
The SMART model is a popular goal-setting tool. As an acrostic, it is easy to remember. Each letter in the word "SMART" represents a key element of a complete and actionable goal:
S – Specific: Is the goal explained with enough detail that it can be well understood by those involved in its completion and by any stakeholders?
M – Measurable: How will those involved in completing the goal know it has been accomplished and how will stakeholders determine its success?
A – Attainable: Is the goal attainable or feasible given the resources available?
R – Relevant: Does the goal align with, support, or advance the organization's vision, mission, values, principles, and strategies?
T – Time bound: Does the goal have a target date for completion?
Though useful because of its simplicity, relying solely on the SMART model for goal-setting may result in a goal lacking in critical details, or the goal may be too rigid, inhibiting creative ideas or flexibility to make adjustments to achieve a better outcome than originally intended.
To record and track the status of goals, we recommend employees and managers consider using the sample goal-setting worksheet (26KB, docx).
Dealing with Goal Roadblocks
Answering the following questions may help employees and managers work through goal roadblocks should they arise:
Your HR Consultant is available as a resource for employees and managers in helping to set goals and track progress toward their completion.
Last Updated: 3/7/16