Main Employee Performance Goals and Objectives (With Examples)

All companies have certain expectations from their employees. Whether you are working for someone or yourself, you must set performance goals to maximize your potential, boost productivity, and exceed the employer's or clients' expectations. The goal-setting process is vital to employee motivation. When you set achievable goals, employees look forward to their success and are determined to accomplish the goals. They push themselves to complete the smaller tasks that lead to the ultimate objective, especially if there is a reward and recognition program.

Mindfully setting employee performance goals uplifts your entire organization while also benefiting the employees. It is a crucial step towards creating a fair and motivating performance review process and retaining your best people. 

Without goal setting, employees may struggle to feel motivated and confident in their journey. It also becomes easy for bias to take a first seat in the performance review process.

As a manager, you hold a unique and influential position in ensuring successful goal setting: 

  • You have unique insight into the needs and resources of your direct reports
  • You bear in mind the interest of your company.

Employees can feel a sense of ownership of their professional path when you empower them to set their goals. Empowering employees translates to higher engagement on their end.

Here are some examples to help you spearhead successful, engaging, and aligned employee performance goals.

1. What Is A Performance Goal?

A performance goal means a target level of performance expressed as a tangible, measurable objective against which actual achievement can be compared, including a goal expressed as a quantitative standard, value, or rate.

Performance goals and goal performance review can then be an agreement between an employer and an employee. However, they can also be self-imposed. 

Many companies use a performance management system to assess how employees achieve their goals. This assessment forms the basis for employment decisions like promotions, raises, transfers, and dismissals. 

In a way, employment goals lay out a short-term career path for each employee. They tell the employees what they should work toward to earn a pay raise or a new position.

2. What Are The Best Practices For Setting Performance Goals?

Talent is the current single biggest differentiator in business success, and organizations do not have the luxury of failure towards employee performance.

Leverage the following three best practices to ensure goal setting aligns with the work. Ensure that employee goals are impactful and drive business outcomes.

No. 1: Help managers provide context for goal setting

To help their teams set goals, provide managers with information about business strategy and how it relates to the diverse roles of employees. Managers must then give direction that translates information into specific tasks and actions. Providing guidance lets employees see the link between their work and overall company strategy. HR plays a strategic role in helping managers understand business strategy and translate it to their teams. 

No. 2: Make goal setting more collaborative

Given the increasingly collaborative nature of work, transform goal setting from a solo activity to a team activity. Have individuals share goals with their team and ensure that everyone understands how their goals relate - and that they are jointly accountable for achieving the results outlined in their business strategy.

Also, implement team goal calibration sessions rather than just requesting peer feedback at the end of the year during the formal performance review process. 

No. 3: Empower employees to update goals regularly

Organizations must build flexibility into the goal-setting process so employees can evolve their goals as their roles and the business change. Have employees review their objectives with their manager quarterly, at minimum, and at the start of the year. Help managers and employees identify triggers for adjusting goals, including changes in company or business unit financial performance, staff turnover, or technology advances.

3. Why Is It Important To Set Performance Goals?

Here are some excellent reasons an employee should be setting their goals:

  • To boost employability
    Your performance in your current position is the key to your future employment. When you achieve uncommon results by setting performance goals, you are opening up future opportunities for yourself.
  • To position for a promotion
    Setting performance goals will earn you a favorable reputation in the organization. It will also open you up to many incentives, including pay raises, promotions, and elevation to a higher office.
  • The ordinary worker is rewarded for efficiency, whereas the extraordinary worker is promoted for achieving goals.
  • To meet organizational demands
    The requirements of your work might be daunting and even beyond your reach. However, when you carefully plan and set goals for meeting these requirements, you will find energy, resources, and even more opportunities to accomplish your goals.
  • To be efficient and effective
    As Peter Drucker said: Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.
    Your boss might have to tell you how to do the job right, but you must figure out your role. For that, you should look for uncommon ways to achieve the organizational business objectives and go the extra mile to do what the organization never thought was possible.

4. How To Get the Most of Your Employees with Performance Goals?

Writing performance objectives can be an annual challenge for managers. But it should not simply be a tick-the-box exercise. 

The most effective performance goals need to motivate employees.


With SMART goals, your employees can see what you expect of them. Vague, general objectives fail to provide adequate instruction or enthusiasm. 

SMART goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and have a set Time frame. They give your employees real goals that are achievable yet challenging. 

  • Be specific
    Be clear with each goal. Use action verbs that indicate what you want your employees to do: increase, reduce, win, develop, etc. Include specific details or targets to give your employees something to aim for. Shelve vague objectives such as improving customer service or increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Made to measure
    Your employees should easily see how they are progressing toward the goal. General objectives can lead to misinterpretation and potentially unhappy employees. Explain how you measure each target, so both parties will know if it has been achieved.
  • Ensure goals are attainable
    The goals you set need to be possible yet challenging. If they are too difficult, employees will give up; if they are too easy, you will fail to motivate staff. Give your employees attainable goals and offer them an opportunity to shine. Finding this perfect middle ground might not happen immediately. You can make any necessary refinements by measuring progress and evaluating an employee's final performance.
  • Be relevant
    Your ultimate objective is to ensure that each goal you set is relevant to specific employees, realistic within their role, and relates to the larger organizational goals. While it is great to be creative with goal setting, writing SMART goals is about establishing objectives that make sense to your employees and their day-to-day role.
  • Make a time-frame
    A goal should not stretch too much in time because it will be harder to achieve. Instead, it should have a time frame with a specific deadline. Employees need to know what they should achieve and by what date when setting a timeline (and milestones along the way). 

# Get in line with the business

SMART goals work best when they are similar to the overall organizational objectives. So before you start writing your employee goals, take a look at the latest business objectives: do you need to reduce customer churn, do you need to meet increased demands for popular products, or has a competitor edged ahead of you?

Use these organizational goals as a starting point: what goals can you set that fit in with the business.

# Make adjustments

Being open to changes is a crucial part of any goal setting. As you know, you might not get everything right the first time. But for your objectives to resonate with employees, you must remain flexible. Here is where the evaluation and adjustment steps combine: evaluation shows you if there are issues with your set objectives, and you can re-adjust if appropriate.

# Evaluate

When devising employee objectives, ascertain your schedule performance evaluations within the established time frame of the goal. By evaluating progress, you can monitor what is being achieved (or not), discuss the headway towards the objective, and make any necessary adjustments. This ongoing evaluation also means that goals do not disappear or get put on the long finger.

5. Main Employee Performance Goal Examples

Setting goals is crucial to establishing best practices in the organization. When you seek help online to develop employee goals, you will come across many sample goals for employees that you can benefit from. Every example differs from the other based on the industry and what the organization’s ultimate goal is. 

Here are the top 10 employee performance goals and objectives examples:

  • Collaboration Goals
    These goals aim at supporting a colleague in achieving their goals to encourage collaboration. It directly impacts motivation, productivity, performance, and resilience.
  • Professional Development Goals
    These goals help employees stay relevant and develop their knowledge, skills, and capabilities in a competitive market.
  • Self-Management Goals
    Self-management includes adaptability, accountability, focus, time management, etc. Developing these skills teaches employees to make decisions independently and work on their intuition. 
  • Soft-Skills Development Goals
    Conflict management, adaptability, and interpersonal skills are external soft skills. A growth mindset, self-awareness, and compassion are internal soft skills. Focus on how employees interact with colleagues, solve problems, and manage their work.
  • Creativity Goals
    Creativity can impact how well you implement the task given to you, as it can relax your mind and body. Organizations believe in cultivating creative thinking as it contributes to personal and the company's development.
  • Emotional Intelligence Goals
    It refers to the ability to process their emotions to make them capable of making sound decisions. It is a critical skill necessary for the performance of the employee.
  • People Management Goals
    Whether you are an employee or a manager, your people management skills show that you are a team player, communicate efficiently, and develop the skills to motivate others. It also supports transdisciplinary skills development goals that enable you to align with different departments in the organization.
  • Negotiating skills
    These skills are imperative to every individual in a business, as they help to reach common ground in case of a conflict.
  • Virtual Communication Goals
    Technological advancement has paved the way for various communication apps, collaborative spaces, and remote work opportunities. Communication channels are constantly evolving, making it essential to be literate in these tools.
  • Decision Making Goals
    A strong leader is a great decision-maker. It is a vital skill that is difficult to develop but offers significant results.

Key Takeaway

Setting employee performance goals should be a common practice within your organization. By setting such goals, you have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of your employees and the potential to uplift your entire organization’s bottom line.

You might have realized that in the employee performance goals examples above, a number of them include self-reflection. 

Self-awareness and reflection are key for every individual to grow personally and professionally. It allows you to determine your strengths and areas you should improve. 

Moreover, the beauty of the skills and goals above is that they closely relate to each other. For example, improving emotional intelligence will boost your decision-making skills and people management. Or by improving your active listening skills, you also contribute to your negotiation and people management skills.

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