3 EASY Steps To Set Performance Goals

Do you ever find yourself not meeting deadlines or falling short of completing a project? You're not alone. In fact, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that 70% of employees don't know how their daily work is connected to their company's strategy. And, more than 60% of employees say they don't receive sufficient feedback about their performance. If these statistics resonate with you, it may be time to develop performance goals and standards.

There's no question that setting and achieving performance goals is an important part of any manager's toolkit. Without defined objectives, it's difficult to know what steps to take and how best to allocate resources. This is especially true for managers, who are responsible for developing long-term performance and organizational goals.


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Here are 3 EASY Steps to set performance goals and standards that align with the organization’s strategic objectives:



1. Define the aspects and importance of these goals:

"what is my action plan?" direction sign

Identify what you want to achieve. This may seem like a mundane task, but it's important to be specific. Once you have a clear idea of your goal, you can develop a plan of action. This plan should include short-term and long-term objectives as well as realistic milestones. Without this level of detail, it will be difficult to measure progress and determine whether or not you are on track.

Once you have developed your plan, the next step is to implement it. This means setting deadlines and assigning tasks to team members. For more information about delegation skills, refer to our “Who Can I Delegate Tasks To” blog. It's crucial to provide regular updates on progress and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.

One final tip: don't forget to celebrate your successes! Achieving goals is a difficult process, but it's important to take the time to enjoy your accomplishments. By doing so, you can motivate yourself and your team to keep setting and achieving new goals.


2. Outline what your SMART goals are:

If manager goals are not properly set then it is difficult for employees to know what is expected of them as well as how their work will be evaluated. Additionally, without clear objectives, it becomes even more challenging to allocate resources to setting and achieving S.M.A.R.T Performance Goals.

What are S.M.A.R.T Performance Goals?

S - Specific: The first step in setting a practical goal is to make it specific. What exactly do you want to achieve? Be as clear and concise as possible when articulating your purpose. Vague goals such as "I want to improve my writing" are difficult to measure and achieve. A specific plan would look like "I want to write one blog post per week."

M - Measurable: Once you have a specific goal in mind, the next step is to make sure that it is measurable. This means that you need to be able to track your progress toward the goal in order to determine if you are on track to achieve it. Following our previous example, counting the number of blog posts written weekly is a measurable goal. If a goal is not measurable, it is difficult to determine whether or not you are making progress toward achieving it.

A - Attainable: It's important that your performance goals are challenging but attainable. If a goal is too easy, you're likely not pushing yourself enough and won't see much improvement in your performance. On the other hand, if a goal is too difficult, you may become discouraged and give up before you even make any headway. For our example goal, writing one blog post per week is likely achievable for most people but will still require some effort.

When setting an attainable goal, it can be helpful to break down a larger goal into smaller milestones that you can achieve along the way. This will help keep you motivated and moving toward your ultimate objective.

R - Relevant: Your performance goals should also be relevant to your role within the company as well as the company's overall mission and goals. For instance, a relevant performance goal for a salesperson might be "increase sales by 10% within the next quarter." This objective supports both the individual's development as well as the company's bottom line. Conversely, setting a goal that is not relevant to your position or the company's objectives would be ineffective and a waste of time.

When considering whether or not a performance goal is relevant, ask yourself if achieving the goal would help you develop professionally and contribute to achieving the company's objectives. If not, then the goal is probably not worth pursuing.

T - Time-Oriented: Just like any other goals worth achieving, performance goals need to have a timeline associated with them in order for you to stay on track. Without a sense of urgency, it can be easy to put off working toward a goal until "later." For our example, we could set a deadline for writing one blog post per week for the next year. This provides us with a specific timeframe in which we need to complete our task while still giving us ample time to do so.

3. Set time aside for reflection and adjustment:

Close-Up Shot of a Person Writing Goals on a Notebook

Reflect on your progress in relation to your performance goals. Identify the timeline for said goals and be prepared to review the progression made. This will help you to see how far you have come and whether or not you need to adjust your goals.

How often you reflect is up to you, but it is important to reflect at least once you have completed a task or goal. Sometimes reflecting can be as simple as thinking about what went well and what could be improved upon next time. Other times, it may be necessary to write down your thoughts or discuss them with someone else. No matter how you choose to reflect, it is an important part of the goal-setting process.


Performance goals are important for individuals and companies alike because they provide direction, focus attention on what needs to be improved, promote accountability, and drive results. You can improve your chances of achieving desired outcomes and becoming an invaluable asset to your organization by setting these performance standards.


What's The Takeaway?

Setting performance goals can be a daunting task. But with a little bit of organization, you can set yourself up for success! Now that you understand the basics of goal setting, it’s time to put what you learned into practice. Explore our course preview of Developing Performance Goals & Standards for more in-depth learning:        


Course: Developing Performance Goals & Standards


In this course, we'll show how implementing performance goals will help you gain skills in:

  • Creating valuable workplace assets
  • Using concrete, active language in creating performance standards
  • Monitoring team members’ progress
  • and much more

Whether you’re just starting out on your goal-setting journey or want to take your skills to the next level, this course has it all.



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