8 Employee goal setting examples for performance development

Written by: Deanna deBara | Edited by: Nora St-Aubin | Illustrated by: Officevibe team
Published on April 20, 2021 |  Reading time: 8m

Goal setting plays a role in everything from employee engagement to team alignment to retention. And helping your employees set goals not only helps them reach their full potential, it also helps you hit your organizational goals and objectives.

But what types of goals should you be helping your employees set? We’ve outlined some employee goal setting examples that illustrate the best practices of setting meaningful goals, so you and your team members get goal setting right.

What are SMART employee goals

Not every individual goal is created equal. If you want your employees to successfully hit their goals, those goals need structure. And that’s where SMART goals come in. SMART is an acronym, and SMART goals are…

Specific

For your employees to hit their goals, they need to know exactly what they’re working towards. A more specific goal is easier to achieve.

Measurable

Being able to measure progress will keep your employees motivated and moving towards their goals. That means setting clear KPIs, referencing reliable benchmarks, and having the right software or tools to track progress.

Attainable

Goals should be aspirational-but not so aspirational that they’re unrealistic. If you want people to succeed, their goals need to be achievable.

Relevant

Employee goals need to feel relevant both for the business context and your team member’s professional aspirations. When you set goals with employees, look for ways to align their personal motivators with the team goals.

Time-based

Time parameters make it easier for goals to be attainable when you set them, and remain attainable as employees progress. They also help you break employee goals into smaller action items and tick off milestones along the way.

SMART goals give your employees a framework to set their individual goals, and hit their targets every time.

Types of employee goals: performance & development

There are two types of goals you’ll want to work on with your employees: performance goals and development goals.

A performance goal is a short-term objective tied to specific business goals or job responsibilities. For example, hitting a quarterly sales quota or landing a new client.

A development goal is more focused on growth and learning, and contributes to business objectives in a more indirect way. For example, improving communication skills through a public speaking course or getting an advanced degree.

Both types of goals are an important part of performance management and professional development. While performance goals help your team achieve and hit specific benchmarks, development goals help employees grow.

Clearly, SMART goals are a must for helping your employees reach their full potential. But what do they look like in action?

Employee goal setting examples

Here, we outline some realistic employee goal examples to help inspire you for your next goal setting session. With each example we’ve outlined how they meet the SMART goal criteria.

Employee performance goals examples

I will increase my daily sales calls by 20% by the end of the month.

  • Specific: The employee needs to increase their sales calls.
  • Measurable: They need to increase those calls by 20 percent.
  • Achievable: The increase in call volume for the given time frame makes sense within the team’s context and the employee’s level of experience.
  • Relevant: Increasing sales calls will increase sales, which contributes to the individual and the team’s success.
  • Time-based: There’s a one-month time frame to complete the goal.

I will be in charge of producing the social media strategy for the next quarter

  • Specific: The employee must be in charge of the strategy for a specific area of expertise.
  • Measurable: The employee needs to deliver one document containing the social media strategy.
  • Achievable: If the employee is already working in the social media field, it makes sense to trust him to produce the strategy for one quarter.
  • Relevant: Teams sometimes need employees to step up and take the lead on certain initiatives. Becoming the owner of the social media strategy will let other employees the time to focus on their area of expertise.
  • Time-based: The goal must be achieved before the beginning of the next quarter.

I will volunteer to run at least one team meeting before the end of the quarter.

  • Specific: The employee must volunteer to lead a team meeting.
  • Measurable: They need to run at least one team meeting in the given time frame.
  • Achievable: Given the volume of team meetings, having the employee lead one meeting is a manageable target.
  • Relevant: Meetings are an important element of the team functionality. Having the employee take the lead on meeting management supports their growth and helps the team hit their objectives.
  • Time-based: The goal must be achieved by the end of the quarter.

I will watch three tutorials by the end of the week to learn how to enter contacts, manage correspondence, and run reports on our new CMS.

  • Specific: The employee needs to watch tutorials to learn how to navigate the new CMS system.
  • Measurable: They need to watch three tutorials.
  • Achievable: Given the length and complexity of the tutorials, the employee can easily watch the tutorials while still performing their other job duties.
  • Relevant: The employee will be using the new CMS, so they need to learn how to use it properly.
  • Time-based: The employee must watch the tutorials by the end of the week.

Employee progression goals examples

This week, I will reach out to one co-worker with a role I aspire to. From there, I’ll schedule a video one-on-one to learn more about their role within the company and how they contribute to the team and company’s success.

  • Specific: The employee needs to reach out to a co-worker to discuss their role in the company.
  • Measurable: They need to schedule a remote one-on-one meeting.
  • Achievable: The employee only has to schedule a single meeting, which is very doable given the time frame.
  • Relevant: The co-worker has a role the employee hopes to one day grow into, making the conversation relevant to their professional development.
  • Time-based: The employee must reach out and schedule the meeting by the end of the week.

This quarter, I will schedule one hour every Friday afternoon to read a book on communication styles. When I read, I’ll take notes on how to be a more assertive communicator at work.

  • Specific: The employee needs to read about and take notes on how to be a more assertive communicator at work.
  • Measurable: They need to read and take notes at a certain time (and for a certain time period) each week.
  • Achievable: Reading and taking notes one hour each week is a realistic goal, especially because the employee can tackle it during work hours.
  • Relevant: Learning more about assertive communication sets the employee up for success and fosters better communication with the team.
  • Time-based: The employee will continue pursuing the goal for the entire quarter.

This year, I will take a writing course.

  • Specific: The employee needs to take a writing course.
  • Measurable: The employee either does or doesn’t take the class, making goal achievement easy to measure.
  • Achievable: The employee has an extended time frame to find the right class, enroll, and complete it.
  • Relevant: Writing is an important skill in the professional world. Taking a writing course will both make the employee better at their job and set them up for future success.
  • Time-based: The employee must complete the course by the end of the year.

This year, I will attend a conference to extend my professional network.

  • Specific: The employee needs to attend a conference.
  • Measurable: People need to register to attend a conference. If there is no registration proof, then the goal is not attained.
  • Achievable: Conferences are usually important events. Therefore, one year is a realistic time frame to research and register for a relevant conference.
  • Relevant: Seminars are a great way for employees to stay up to date with the trends of their area of expertise and meet new people that will become part of their professional networks
  • Time-based: The employee must attend a conference before the end of the year.

How to set employee goals

Setting goals is something you can tackle with every member of your team in a one-on-one meeting. When you book your employees, let them know ahead that you want to set individual goals with them that align with the team goals. That way, they can arrive at the meeting prepared with some ideas for how they can develop, and where they most see themselves contributing.

With Officevibe’s one-on-one meeting software, not only can you work with individual employees to set goals, but you can also set goals for your entire team. This makes it easier for every member of your team to see how they’re contributing to the greater purpose, boosting employee engagement, motivation, and team alignment.

Screenshot of Officevibe's goal-setting feature, adding "Improve my public speaking skills" as a development goal
Employee goal setting example in Officevibe.

You can work with your team members to create SMART performance and progression goals in the app. Then, set smaller action items, monitor progress, and offer feedback in every one-on-one. Officevibe keeps a clear record of how every employee achieved their goals, making your next performance review a breeze.

Use these employee goal setting examples to empower your team

Helping your employees set the right goals is critical to their success. And now that you understand how to use SMART goals to empower your employees (and have these employee goal setting examples to get you started). From there, all that’s left to do is get out there and start goal setting!

For more on employee goal setting, check out our top employee goal setting tips for managers.