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Updated Feb 14, 2024

Employee Performance Goals and Metrics: Performance Goals Examples

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations

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Setting employee and team performance goals is an essential responsibility for business owners and managers. Notably, the best and most impactful employee performance goals are aligned with the company’s overall goals for growth and success.

However, measuring and improving an employee’s performance can be complex and daunting, particularly if communication is not aligned among company goals, managers and team members.

We’ll explain more about performance goals and share tips and examples to help you consistently provide the right feedback and standards to improve employee performance and accelerate company growth.

Did You Know?Did you know

Performance management trends must improve. According to The Talent Strategy Group’s recent Global Performance Management Report, 95 percent of companies have a performance management process, but less than 20 percent found this process effective.

What are performance goals?

Performance goals detail what is expected of each employee and outline short-term and long-term objectives employees must meet. An employee’s performance goals should integrate with the business’s goals because employees make or break business success

Who is responsible for setting performance goals?

Business owners and managers are responsible for setting performance goals for their staff. However, employees are ultimately accountable for their professional success. They must utilize performance goals to stay motivated, feel fulfilled and benefit the company’s bottom line. 

Performance goals vs. development goals

While often confused, performance and development goals differ. Here’s how:

  • Performance goals: Performance goals are geared toward an employee’s job description. For example, a sales representative might have a performance goal of achieving a specific target in monthly sales. Management often sets these objectives, and they should closely align with the organization’s overall goals.
  • Development goals: Development goals are geared toward an employee’s professional development and growth. Employees often set goals that can help them advance in their careers. For example, a sales representative might want to appear more confident during sales pitches. They might set a development goal of taking a company-sponsored public speaking training course and have their peers grade them on sales pitches.

Why are performance goals important?

Performance goals can have significant benefits for both the employee and the organization. Here are some of the ways performance goals can help the business: 

  • Increase revenue: Performance goals can improve the company’s bottom line, particularly when sales goals are met.
  • Improve morale: Performance goals can boost employee morale and provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
  • Boost employee retention: Performance goals can help your company retain employees because team members will feel accomplished and have higher job satisfaction rates.
  • Keep employees engaged: Performance goals can boost employee engagement by giving employees something to strive for.
  • Raise productivity: Performance goals can increase productivity by giving employees a clear picture of what’s expected of them, instead of making them guess and muddle through daily tasks without a clear path to success.
  • Motivate employees: Performance goals can keep motivation high as employees hear positive formal and informal feedback from managers.
TipBottom line

Use goal setting and tracking tools to establish objectives and record progress as your employees strive to reach their performance goals.

Performance goal examples

There are many types of performance goals, but some are more measurable than others. Here are some examples of measurable performance goals: 

1. Productivity

For the short term, a productivity goal for a sales manager may be to call 150 leads in one week. For the long term, a lead generation performance goal could be to onboard 500 new leads in a year.

2. Visibility

In the short term, such as one month, a public relations campaign goal may be to generate 10,000 impressions. In the long term, such as one year, the goal might be to have 1,000 of those impressions become new customers. 

3. Product quality

In the short term (three months), a candle-making company may achieve the goal of making its candles 50 percent organic by sourcing cost-effective ingredients so it doesn’t have to raise prices. In the long term (one year), the goal could be to go 100 percent organic while keeping prices the same.

Consider the resources your employees may need to achieve product quality goals. In this example, they must rely on outside vendors that may communicate inefficiently with them due to language barriers and conflicting time zones. You may also need to factor in a testing period to ensure you can still make a quality product with the new ingredients.

4. Punctuality

Punctuality is a performance goal that can complement productivity. You could set a goal that an employee will not be late more than a certain number of times. Also, when meetings or events run late, they can put everything else behind, so a simple punctuality goal could be that no meeting starts more than five minutes late.

5. Professional development

Learning is part of every industry, and expanding your team’s industry knowledge is always beneficial. Personal development goals can be built around attending a certain number of development events or pursuing specific business certifications. Another common goal is for professionals to publish a paper or complete a continued learning course annually.

Did You Know?Did you know

Offering your employees access to professional development resources, like training courses, can improve employee recruitment and retention while increasing your employees’ overall knowledge and value.

6. Personal standards

Personal standards are excellent goals for getting employees to take the initiative to develop their own performance metrics. For example, each employee can set the reachable goal of increasing their output by 10 percent. This goal is driven by personal accountability and can lead to increased productivity.

7. Collaboration

You could give employees the goal of completing one collaborative project per quarter. A goal like this fosters interpersonal communication and creates team-oriented accountability. Workplace collaboration goals can supplement productivity and communication goals by providing clear objectives on which to focus those other efforts.

8. Time management

Time-management goals are designed around the specific tasks an employee faces daily. A clear example of constructive goals in this area would be a commitment to complete a daily task within the first hour of each workday.

9. Soft skills

Not all positions require extensive soft skills, but some revolve around them entirely. Soft-skill goals help with progressive development that improves employee efficacy. 

Soft goals can be hard to define, but a strong example is to set a three-month goal to improve an employee’s responses to constructive criticism. This could be considered emotional resilience development.

10. People management

People management goals can help employees at every level find constructive ways to promote healthy cooperation and accountability within the company. A simple goal would be to communicate with someone from another department at least once a week. 

This builds a more robust interdepartmental understanding of the business and helps individual team members grasp the interconnectivity of operations — how each link in the chain affects the rest. 

TipBottom line

Use people management goals to help resolve typical conflicts between your sales and marketing teams.

11. Service quality and timeliness

Instead of assisting 10 customers in one hour, you could implement a new process that improves your staff’s knowledge and efficiency, raising that number to 20 without sacrificing the quality of service. Set an actionable time frame to let employees know when they will need to assist the 20 customers. Depending on the required training, this might be achievable within six months.

12. Organization

An executive assistant who’s responsible for filing more than 50 documents a month may feel so overwhelmed between answering phone calls and keeping the office stocked that they let filing fall through the cracks. 

A short-term organization goal for them might be to file 50 documents alphabetically over three months. A long-term goal might be to scan and load 100 documents onto the company’s secure cloud server over the course of one year.

Step-by-step instructions: How to set and write performance goals

Setting performance goals will differ by company, but the following steps hold true in most industries and workplace environments. 

1. Review your overall company objectives and share them with staff.

Every company should have a business plan, or at least an outline of short-term and long-term company objectives. These goals can be written formally or informally and be as long or short as necessary. Many organizations distribute company objectives via email. It’s best to digitally store your business’s goals and objectives so you can edit and change them as needed.

Your company objectives should include strategies that are broken down into clear and actionable tactics. 

2. Work with employees to set individual performance goals.

Encourage your employees to contribute to your company’s overall and granular performance goals. Take time to sit privately with each team member, asking them about their individual goals and the performance metrics they feel would be applicable to track them. 

When you involve your employees in goal setting, they can often identify challenges you missed. Additionally, they’ll feel heard and motivated to achieve their goals. This exercise can also reveal who is disengaged and who needs additional employee training or coaching.

3. Help employees structure their goals. 

Goal achievement methods can be helpful for your team members. For example, you can use the SMART goals action plan to implement effective goal setting. 

SMART is an acronym for “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.”

Specific

Lay out precise performance goals, when they should be achieved, and by whom. Make them simple to understand.

Measurable

Without performance metrics, tracking each goal’s success will be difficult. Performance metrics offer insight into what is working and what isn’t, putting meaning into goals and empowering employees when they see what they’ve achieved.

Achievable

While it’s great to think big, setting unachievable goals can hurt employee morale and cause frustration. Consider breaking down goals into smaller targets that can be achieved over a longer period. Attainable goals are key.

Relevant

The best goals center on your company’s primary objectives. The “R” in “SMART” can also stand for “reasonable,” “realistic,” “resourced” or “results-based.”

Time-bound

Set a specific time frame for each goal, such as one week, one month, six months, one year or five years. Setting a concise time frame, such as one day, may not be helpful; remember the importance of being realistic.

How to measure employee performance

The performance metrics you track depend on the goals you set; performance evaluation varies by goal. Here are some options:

Graphic rating scales

Simple numeric scales, such as 1-5 or 1-10, can quickly measure performance in common areas, like time management or task completion. If you don’t think numbers justify your team’s performance, use a frequency scale that includes “always,” “frequently,” “occasionally” or “never” to help you identify areas where an employee could improve.

360-degree feedback

Don’t rely on one manager’s point of view when you’re looking for feedback about a team member; also consider notes from co-workers, customers and other department managers. Gathering multiple feedback sources can help you understand an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Such 360-degree feedback is also excellent for promotion and restructuring considerations.

Self-evaluation

Allowing employees to evaluate themselves is a great way to compare how they view themselves to the 360-degree feedback you’ve received. Quarterly employee surveys can help you pinpoint shortfalls. 

If 360-degree feedback and self-feedback differ significantly, talk to the employee. It’s crucial to help them build self-awareness and reinstate work expectations.

Management by objectives 

Management by objectives (MBO) is an employee performance improvement method where managers and team members agree on specific performance goals based on the company’s overall goals. They work together to evaluate progress and measure results. 

Did You Know?Did you know

Continuous performance management eliminates the anxiety of annual employee performance reviews and prioritizes real-time feedback and informal developmental conversations.

Performance evaluation software options

The best HR software often includes employee evaluation and performance management tools that can help you track time spent on projects and keep employees accountable and on track for goal achievement. Here are some of our favorites:

  • BambooHR: BambooHR offers an excellent performance management add-on that can help you create and monitor employee goals and track their success. Read our review of BambooHR to learn about its peer feedback feature, which lets team members share insights to create a clearer picture of team performance.
  • Paychex Flex: Paychex Flex includes multiple employee performance management features. Our review of Paychex Flex details the platform’s learning management system and online courses that can help employees stay updated on certifications and compliance training.
  • GoCo: GoCo is a user-friendly HR platform that can automate performance review workflows and ensure they’re conducted regularly. Check out our review of GoCo to learn how the software makes it easy to set up triggers to send automatic follow-ups as needed. 
  • monday.com: monday is an extensive project management platform with comprehensive HR features, including a host of performance management and collaboration tools. Our review of monday.com goes into detail about how this software can monitor employee assignments and track project and goal completion.  

Julie Thompson and Marisa Sanfilippo contributed to this article.

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Skye Schooley is a human resources writer at business.com and Business News Daily, where she has researched and written more than 300 articles on HR-focused topics including human resources operations, management leadership, and HR technology. In addition to researching and analyzing products and services that help business owners run a smoother human resources department, such as HR software, PEOs, HROs, employee monitoring software and time and attendance systems, Skye investigates and writes on topics aimed at building better professional culture, like protecting employee privacy, managing human capital, improving communication, and fostering workplace diversity and culture.
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