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How to Set Performance Goals For Your Employees: Smart Targets

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: June 03, 2015

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All businesses want to achieve success. Setting effective goals for your employees will help a company to meet its objectives and see their workers develop in the process.

Organisations see a dramatic increase in employee performance when they have goals that intrinsically tie in with the aims and directives of the company. As a manager or person in a position of influence it is down to you to task your employees with meeting higher standards, achieving higher targets and seeing better results.

Setting employee goals is critical to success and so it’s imperative you learn how to do this appropriately.

Why are goals important?

Setting and of goals is often critical to the success and development of a business. Goals and targets ensure that employees can see the direction for the business and know how their role fits into the wider framework of the business. You want them to see the “Big Picture”. In this way your company can execute strategy faster, with more flexibility and adaptability. As a manager, better goal alignment will strengthen your leadership skills and create a company that motivates employees.

Goal Benefits

Setting goals enables employees to focus their efforts on important targets. They allow employees to understand more clearly the responsibilities associated with how they can help a company reach its aims. Goals strengthen management accountability by assigning measurable, articulated goals that are visible and company-wide.

How to set effective and constructive goals

In short, setting goals should be a collaborative process between you and your employees. The most commonly used approach for effective goal setting is called S-M-A-R-T and its implementation will help you keep goals realistic and achievable. It works as follows:


Your goals need to be well defined to inform employees as to exactly what’s expected, when, and how much. With specific goals, managers can easily measure progress toward goal completion. It also makes what is required clear to both you and your employees.


The goal must outline milestones to track progress and motivate employees toward achievement. You need to be able to track if a task is on target. This is especially important for goals that may take some time to complete. There may need to be a series of reviews set in place to enforce the goal directives at several stages.


The goal success needs to be achievable by the employee. You can aim high but not so high that it is unlikely the goal will be met. Goal setting is about achieving what is realistic and helps boost moral. Setting somebody up for a fall will not help you, your employees or your company.


The goal should focus on the greatest impact to the overall company strategy and have a clear aim. The goal should be relevant to the employee’s area or expertise. Where new skills need to be learned, these should be relevant to their job role.


The goal should establish enough time to achieve it, but not too much time as to undermine its performance. Goals without deadlines tend to be overtaken by the other things.

How to track and achieve your goals

Once you have outlined and set your goals according to S-M-A-R-T you need to actively oversee the tracking of them. This is important. Assessing the progress of a goal will enable you to review its effectiveness and likelihood of completion.

If a goal appears as though it may be missed or not achieved you must have time to allocate extra resources and training if necessary to ensure the employee is given the resources to get back on the right path. Tracking your goals in a centralised location helps you stay on track. Three things that you need to do to effectively track a goal are:

  1. Organise, manage and reassess your goals frequently
  2. Create action plans with milestones for larger goals
  3. Track your time to make sure your daily efforts are focused on meaningful tasks

Knowing how to best set, implement and then track a goal will improve your management skills and enable the company to drive forward. Your employees will feel safer and supported within their role and come to see you as someone that has theirs as well as the company’s best interests at heart.

Set better goals and achieve better results.



Yvette has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

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