How to Write Employee Performance Goals Like a Boss

Posted by Julie • July 28, 2016 (Last modified June 8, 2023) • 3 min read

Employee performance goals that are well-written and to the point can sometimes be the difference between a team that continuously reaches its goals and one that comes up short time after time.

Writing performance review goals is a challenge, particularly for new. managers or managers who don’t work with their employees on a day-to-day basis. This could be for shift workers or for Human Resources professionals who aren’t on the same teams.

No matter what your organization looks like, professional development and setting individual goals is essential.

According to a recent report 50% of the workforce does not know what is expected of them at work. Use these goal writing tips to make sure that’s not the truth for your team.


Make Sure Goals are SMART

Let’s discuss SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Taking the time to ensure your employee performance goals meet these standards will increase success rates. Goals that are vague tend to fade over time because there is no driving force. Using SMART goals gives you the ability to be more definitive with your employees.

Goal setting is challenging, but SMART goals make it a little easier for everyone. You can provide specific examples to your employees to make it even easier. SMART performance goals should become the norm at your organization after everyone learns them. Why? Setting goals is easier, performance appraisals aren’t as high stakes, and constructive feedback becomes tailored to a specific goal instead of generic.

Read how building a learning organization can increase performance.

 Be Clear and to the Point

Employee performance goals should always aim to better the employee and help guide career progression. Whether you would like to encourage initiative or foster a better attitude, make sure your goals convey the message clearly.

Reaching these desired outcomes, specifically when writing cascade or organizational goals, may derive from verbal cues like the following.

 To encourage initiative: “Find ways to assume responsibilities beyond your current job description and comfort zone.”

To promote better listening: “Strive to ask more open-ended questions so that you are more engaged in conversations and receive more information from them.”

To spur creativity: “Build relationships among peers that foster collaboration and discussion of new ideas. Share some of these conversations with us at meetings so everyone can benefit.”

Writing goals is a skill that not everyone has! If you have managers or a staff member who creates the goals for employee performance reviews, learning how to write goals could be one of their own specific goals.


Read about performance management steps that are often overlooked.


Collaborate with Your Employees

Take the time to collaborate with your employees on performance goals throughout the year to ensure you’re both on the same page and the goals seem achievable to the employee. 50% of employees don’t feel their manager assists in breaking down barriers that are impacting their ability to complete the task at hand. So talk with your team member about what you, as their leader, can do to help them achieve their goals and even surpass them. The employee will feel more connected to the goal if they have a hand in its development.
Get your workforce up to their full potential with employee performance goals that get results and let your team know what is expected of them in the workplace. Still need help when it comes to goals? Check out our software that helps you set and track goals for you and your team all in one place.

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