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Employees Goals: How to Set them and Why It’s Important

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A lively illustration featuring a large target with an arrow hitting the bullseye, symbolizing goal achievement. Surrounding the target are five people celebrating their success.

For any manager, knowing how to set employee goals is an essential job responsibility. By doing this, a supervisor can help employees better understand the company’s expectations of them, strengthen company positions, and improve coordination within the team. Setting employees’ goals can include multiple other advantages like:

  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Aligning employee’s work with the organization’s broader long-term and short-term goals
  • Setting criteria and guidelines for a successful staff performance review

These are some considerations for setting goals in a workplace that can assist any company in optimizing their productivity and work environment.

How to Set Employee Goals That Enhance Performance

Make employees a part of the goal-setting process

One mistake that many organizations make is setting employee goals top-down. Goal setting should be a collaborative effort in order to get input from employees and managers on what the company can do in order to create a peaceful yet stimulating work environment for its staff.

As managers are constantly supervising their team, they have useful information which can help set benchmarks for the team. That being said, you cannot ignore the importance of including employees in this conversation.

When an employee participates in the goal-setting process, they are more likely to be engaged in all activities regarding their performance from the start. As a result, they are more accountable to their actions.

Set specific goals for consistent improvement

What is the team vision, the ultimate business idea, or employee development blueprint? And how can your employees help you get there?

When sitting down with your staff, make sure to supply them with important context. Once they are aware of company priorities and broader team goals, they can suggest more efficient goals that will be more impactful on business and individual performance.

After you have set the goals, check with the employees regularly. Goals conversations cannot become a one-and-done job. They are to be considered an inseparable element of a continuous growth cycle.

Select the correct kind of goal

There are many ways to go about goal-setting. A super popular method in recent times is the SMART method. SMART is an acronym where each letter designates one of the 4 criteria set for a “SMART” goal. According to this philosophy, when employees concentrate in these 5 zones when setting goals, they increase their probability of success.

S.M.A.R.T goals must be:

  • Specific: Focused and specific goals make for clearer targets. Your staff’s goals should clearly answer who, when, where, what, why, and how.
  • Measurable: If progress isn’t measurable, how can you know your efforts are bringing fruit? Set employee goals that are measurable, with defined milestones and metrics to track progress and define success.
  • Attainable: Never be afraid to reach for the stars but don’t forget reality in the process. Do your employees have access to the resources and tools required to make your vision a reality? Reaching for unachievable goals disengages and discourages employees when they cannot meet their goals. Make sure to set objectives that push employee boundaries without tearing them.
  • Relevant: Employee goals must align with broader business and team objectives. It’s your job to make your staff acknowledge those priorities. That’s when they will truly home in on the vision.
  • Time-bound: Without a deadline, no goal will yield the desired performance. Time constraints can drive performance as they develop a sense of urgency. Too little time can cause burnouts and too much time and reduce performance pace. Help your employees establish realistic and fair timeframes to achieve their goals. 
  • Align personal goals with business objectives

The objective of employee goals is to move your company forward. What’s the sense of having employee goals if they aren’t related to your overall team and company goals?

Share team objectives and corporate priorities with employees so they have a framework for creating performance targets. Goal alignment is critical as it guarantees that your staff is working toward goals that are relevant while driving engagement.

Adjust goals and objectives in real-time

Preferences change, team functions or dynamics shift, and suddenly your business goals from January are no longer relevant in April. That’s completely fine. Change is inevitable and normal in all spectrums of life. Your business’s fate is locked in how well you adapt to those changes while remaining effective and relevant.

Check with your employees frequently (quarterly, at least) to ensure that their goals are related. Closely observe factors such as employee turnover, company changes, technology advancement or budget constraints that could influence goal alignment. After that, adapt goals as required in real-time to keep your team always aligned with goals and priorities.

Why Settings Employee Goals Is Necessary

Goals are the way organizations and people achieve faster, more, with less. When used correctly, they can be a powerful tool in your company.  Check out some of the biggest reasons you want to be careful with employee goal setting.

Improved Alignment

Goals unite employees, managers, and leaders around a common purpose. When employees understand organizational goals, they can align their team and personal goals to better achieve and exceed company-wide targets.

Clear Direction

Goals direct how employees invest their time, which tasks to finish, and how much effort they put into their job.

Accommodative Planning

Employees are motivated to plan when they have goals to work toward. If they have a good perception of a goal in mind, they are more likely to make and stick to a plan to meet it.

Performance Motivation

Goals inspire, encourage, and fuel increased performance. They invigorate employees and motivate them to persevere. When confronted with a goal, staff finds new ways to become resourceful, utilizing or searching for current information or obtaining new knowledge required to achieve.

Better Evaluation

Goals establish a defined roadmap and mechanism for assessing firm success by evaluating actual to intended performance.


Goal-setting is clearly advantageous in a number of ways, for individuals and businesses alike. A singular focus in the shape of a goal is not just to help individuals stay on course, but it also drives them more than variables such as monetary benefits.