Setting short-term performance goals for employees can provide invaluable benefits to your company or organization in the long run. In addition to providing a written set of clear, achievable objectives for employees, performance goals also provide the means for managers to measure the success of their employees. They also help to raise the professional bar of the organization as employees individually — and as a group — continue to learn and grow as professionals.
What kinds of goals will be most effective or will positively impact your organization? And, how can you ensure these goals are attained?
The Big Think+ team has put together a list of 4 of the best types of performance goals for employees regardless of industry.
1) Specific Goals that Promote Success
No matter which individual performance goals for employees you choose to set, just make sure that they are SMART and promote employee and organizational success.
SMART goals are:
- Specific. Clearly defined goals leave little room for misinterpretation and enable employees to know how to proceed.
- Measurable. Defining precise dates and other quantifiable metrics to make the progress towards or success of the goals easily measured.
- Attainable. While this may seem obvious, it is still worth stating: Make sure your goals are realistic. While it’s good to having challenging goals, trying to force employees to attain unrealistic goals will be counterproductive and may instead demoralize them.
- Relevant. What good is a goal if it is irrelevant to an employee’s career? Setting inconsistent and irrelevant employee goals will help no one — especially not your organization.
- Timely. The best goals have a definitive end date. This helps to motivate employees to accomplish those goals in a timely manner and encourages accountability.
By setting SMART goals, you’re providing employees with an understanding of the goal, its purpose, and why it matters. As noted in an article by Entrepreneur on work issues, “It’s frustrating when employees can’t see the goal behind completing certain duties, which leads to reduced quality in this type of work.”
Managers can involve their employees in the goal-planning process. Making performance goal setting a collaborative effort actually encourages employees to be more involved in their jobs and organizations. According to Gallup News, “employees whose manager involves them in goal setting are four times more likely to be engaged than other employees.”
2) Encourage Collaboration and Social Utility
An example of a specific employee performance goal in this area could be: “Help a colleague complete one of their projects this quarter.” It meets all of the SMART goal prerequisites while also offering other potential benefits to your organization.
This kind of goal helps to develop and promote an environment of collaboration. Encouraging employees to become team players gives them a chance to build camaraderie with their colleagues on a deeper and more meaningful level. It helps them to learn more about what others on their teams do, increasing their overall understanding of your organization, and also can help to encourage future cross-team or interdepartmental collaborations. All of these can provide opportunities to learn and grow as a professional and can provide greater benefit to your organization as a whole.
Another potential benefit is that this kind of goal also helps to develop an environment of goodwill and social utility among the employees. Big Think expert, psychologist, and behavioral economist Dan Ariely says that managers who focus only on short-term efficiency and goals without nurturing those positive human attributes among employees do so at the detriment of the organization in the long-term.
3) Help Employees Stay Up-to-Date With Industry News
Your career is a living, breathing entity that needs to be nurtured. As such, employees need to not only be good at their jobs but they also need to stay up-to-date on new developments and best practices to remain relevant in today’s increasingly competitive global marketplace.
One way to help employees accomplish this goal is to require them to spend a little time each day or week reading. Taking an hour or two a week — or 15-30 minutes each morning — will help them to learn about new or ongoing research, developments, trends, and other information relating to your industry.
Ideally, employees should already be doing these this on their own time. However, this seemingly obvious task can fall by the wayside when employees are raising kids, supporting a family, and have other important personal factors occupying their personal time and attention.
4) Enable Employees to Continuously Grow as Leaders & Professionals
No matter how smart or talented an employee is, there is always something they can still learn and ways they can grow as both individuals and professionals. Robert S. Kaplan, a Big Think expert who is President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, says the reason that some of the brightest or most talented employees are not successful as leaders is because they’re not open to learning and changing their ways.
In his Big Think video “What Does a Leader Do,” Kaplan says:
“The most significant reason that I see that leaders fail is not because they’re not smart enough or they don’t have the skills, it’s that they are not open to learning and they are isolated…They think they’re supposed to act like they know everything, they’re used to being the smartest person so everybody expects them to know everything. And so they send off a vibe: they don’t want criticism, they don’t want disagreement, they’re not open to advice, they don’t ask for advice. And, what happens over a period of months and years is they get very, very isolated.”
To help employees continuously learn and become more informed contributors to your organization, offer training opportunities through an employer-based or third-party professional development program. This educational programming, which can work on developing soft skills or professional skills, can be offered in a number of formats, including:
- Group face-to-face sessions;
- Individual online training modules;
- Blended-learning courses;
- Webinars; or
There are many types of learning programs that exist, whether employer-created or purchased from a third party. The main thing is to find the one that will best fit your company culture while meeting the needs of your employees.