Far too often, managers assign employee performance goals so they can check off a box in the performance management process. But when written effectively, performance goals can move the needle on company strategy, giving your organization a competitive edge.
“Good performance goals focus on efficiency measures, such as how much and how fast,” says Tim Toterhi, GPHR, chief HR officer, coach and author at Plotline Leadership. “Great performance goals focus on effectiveness measures — how well and the impact their fulfillment has on the organization.” Effective employee performance goals align organizational goals with professional development. They provide an opportunity for individual contributors to differentiate themselves and harness their skills and interests for the good of the business.
Here are some examples of employee performance goals — and what makes them effective.
Process development goals improve the efficiency and effectiveness of internal work processes. They also allow individuals to take on tasks that may fall outside of their job description to differentiate themselves from peers in the same role. “Gather input and insight from stakeholders who the results will be delivered to,” says L’Tanya Johnson, SPHR, chief HR consultant and executive coach at HCI Consulting. “What can we do differently for better results?”
Example: “Design and implement a new system for standardizing project management processes for maximum effectiveness by the end of the fiscal year.”
This goal allows the individual to contribute to a goal beyond their role by enhancing business processes while supporting the business by increasing process effectiveness.
Performance improvement goals harness individuals’ talents to create a team that performs to its highest capacity. “As a manager, you’re looking for opportunities to stretch your staff,” Toterhi says. Setting big goals for the year allows each team member to hone new skills. “The value of your staff will increase exponentially,” Toterhi continues.
Example: “Train your team of 10 people on a newly implemented software, and develop training modules for them to train their direct reports by the end of Q2.”
This goal aligns with the employee’s professional development, allowing them to hone their skills in communication and learning and development, while also enhancing the results of a software switch from the top down.
Outcome assurance goals ensure that quarterly goals are met while also protecting business continuity in the long term. The most effective goals are people-oriented, mission-aligned and results-driven, Johnson says. “The best goals start with action words,” she continues. Linking short-term goals with long-term strategies helps employees better envision their role in moving the company forward.
Example: “Develop a partnership with a local university that embeds your role-specific training into their final-year curriculum, ensuring a consistent pipeline of candidates who are trained before day one.”
This annual goal can be broken into smaller, quarterly goals. It supports a sustainable talent pipeline, ensures buy-in from stakeholders and provides professional enrichment for the employee. The employee will learn to enhance their influence with stakeholders and community partners.