Setting employee goals is a critical prerequisite for their work evaluation process. You can't manage what you don't measure.
It's no surprise that unrealistic and vague performance goals are one of the biggest frustrations for employees. This tends to kill motivation and leads to the failure to meet company goals. According to a survey conducted among small business owners, 80% have failed to track their business goals for work evaluation. Not surprisingly, 77% of those who failed to set and track goals also failed to achieve their company’s vision.
It's apparent that without setting good employee goals and keeping a track record, you set yourself up for failure.
That’s why this article is made to give you a few sample goals for employees, and tips on how to write performance goals.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Setting employee goals
Once you decide to set employee goals, you might wonder where to start. We could provide you with examples of measurable goals for employees right away, but wouldn’t it be better to understand the bigger picture first?
So when setting employee goals you might consider using different measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives:
All these measurable goals and approaches serve different purposes.
Using KPIs for goal setting
If you want to track the overall business performance and understand how you progress towards your business goals, choose KPIs.
KPIs direct your attention toward what they are monitoring, and they simply tell you if you are achieving your targets or not. KPIs can be set to measure performance on the company, department, team, and also individual levels.
KPIs are usually achieved with business-as-usual activities and as a part of the daily routine. In other words, when people are keeping up with their regular tasks and completing them on time, they should be achieving these targets. Analyzing your performance against KPI targets allows you to understand how to keep your business going.
Simply put, to have a well-functioning company you need KPIs to keep an eye on its health.
Using MBO for goal setting
If setting performance targets is easier when you define top company goals first and then determine employees’ objectives based on that, consider using MBO for goal setting.
MBO helps all employees see their accomplishments in connection to the company goals as they execute their tasks. This goal-setting approach promotes alignment between activity and outcome, which drastically increases productivity.
Usually, someone in top management would set company objectives and cascade them to employees. The managers should then monitor, evaluate and reward employees when they hit their performance goals.
The MBO approach works best when the top management prefers to closely set, track and manage employee goals.
Using OKRs for goal setting
OKRs are not just another way to manage and track everything you do. Their main purpose is to better your business by singling out improvement areas for the quarter. You can either identify what needs fixing or brainstorm ideas for doing things in a new way.
Goals expressed as OKRs should be ambitious, and that means exploring opportunities and trying things that have never been done before. Obviously, you cannot expect better business results if you don’t change what you do and how you do it.
With that in mind, connecting the percent of completion of OKRs to employee performance evaluation would result in sandbagging, less innovative thinking, and ultimately worse business results. If you think about it, how can a person strive for excellence without exploring the unknown? And how can one explore the unknown with a constant fear of not meeting their performance goals?
OKR is a forward-looking goal-setting method that fuels teamwork and accountability. And if you want to see greater collaboration and have your teams truly invested in their work, you should never use OKRs for employee performance management.
8 employee goals and objectives examples
These employee goals examples expressed in OKRs would give you an understanding of why an Objective supported by Key Results is the best method to set and track goals.
OKR Example for Marketing
Improve community management to encourage positive word-of-mouth
- Increase the # of referrals from clients from 5% to 15%
- Grow the newsletter contact base from 1000 to 4000 readers
- Increase the number of registrations from the testimonials page from 100 to 200
OKR Example for Sales
Grow the number of enterprise client accounts through increasing transaction value & retention
- Increase closes with the mid-tier package or higher from 50% to 80%
- Increase the enterprise deal size from $300 to $400 with upsells
- Reduce churn rate from 10% to 5% for the last 90 days
OKR Example for Product
Increase the delivery speed of the new features
- Increase the sprint team velocity from 20 to 30 points
- Reduce the number of bugs per feature from 10 to 5
- Reduce average lead time from product feature definition to delivery from 6 to 4 weeks
OKR Example for HR
Develop a sustainable candidate lead strategy
- Partner with recruitment agencies to interview 60 candidates
- Write 5 articles promoting us as a place to work read by 1500 unique visitors
- Our vacancies web page visits increase from 600 to 900
OKR Example for Software Development
Improve cloud security to be more trusted by our customers
- Reduce security incidents per month from 2 to 0
- Assign certain access control to each of 4 user types
- Increase vulnerability scans from 3 to 6
OKR Example for Design
Promote our new brand image through design deliverables
- Design new graphs/templates for at least 50% of top-performing posts
- Increase the downloads of the templates and infographics from the average of 200 to 800 a month
- Start a design Pinterest account and achieve average monthly visits of 1200
OKR Example for Finance
Improve the way we manage warehouse inventory records to save time during mandatory inventory checks
- Reduce the time needed to complete inventory check from 16h to 4h on average
- Automate 3 critical processes to avoid human errors
- Reduce the % of discrepancies between bookkeeping data and factual information from 6% to 3%
OKR Example for Customer Success
Improve satisfaction with the support team’s work
- Decrease the number of complaints and negative feedback per quarter from 15 to 5
- Increase positive feedback items and praise from 5 to 15 per quarter
- Increase end-user satisfaction rating from 4.0 to 4.5
How to set employee goals?
Set employee goals now
Goal setting is an uncomfortable process. It demands you to predict the unforeseen, challenges you and your team, and challenges you to ditch the comfort zone, which no one really likes stepping out of. Nevertheless, it won’t get any easier in the future. That’s why it’s crucial to start setting and tracking goals with your team and employees now.
Write goals down
If your goals are not written down, it’s just a wish. People have about 35 thoughts in a minute. If the goals are only in your mind, they are invariably vague and uncertain in many ways. Help employees write down and set their goals. This will inherently increase the commitment level. Putting things on paper or into an OKR system, will clarify your expectations and provoke the whole team to take the next necessary step.
Make goals public
Writing down their goals is not enough. It's best if employees' goals are public so that everyone in the team can view them. In addition to keeping everyone in the loop, this will pressure people to plan accordingly.
In Weekdone, we have a special feature for setting and communicating goals. OKR software helps you connect different level objectives to measurable results, making people move together in the right direction.
Make goals smart
Setting specific, challenging, obtainable goals will enhance your team performance. Not a big surprise there. Yet, how often do you really think about setting SMART objectives?
Reflecting on your past experience, have you always set goals that are:
- Specific – well-defined and focused;
- Measurable – include a number;
- Attainable – ambitious but reachable;
- Relevant – in compliance with the external market trends;
- Time-bound – with a certain deadline.
If not, you may need to change how you set your own goals along with how you set employee goals.
Align employee goals with team and organization goals
It’s much easier to achieve success when different level objectives are all aligned. Spend enough time communicating the company’s mission, vision and goals to everyone. Make sure people understand how they contribute to the company’s success. It is an important step in improving teamwork in the workplace and will make it easier to link personal, team, and company objectives altogether.
Let employees step out of their comfort zone
As mentioned before, having specific difficult goals leads to higher performance. Furthermore, setting challenging yet attainable goals, separates the average employees from the outstanding. But make sure these goals are attainable. When they are beyond reach, they’ll act as de-motivator. Find a balance between these two extremes.
Having set proper employee goals is a big step towards realizing the future vision.
Nonetheless, it’s only the first step.
Therefore, divide the goals into daily, weekly and monthly tasks and focus your plans on what’s important. After all, not knowing which tasks are priority is considered to be one of the biggest employee time wasters.
That's why in Weekdone we have integrated the Objectives and Key Results methodology with weekly reports. This way, the manager gets a clear overview of how each team member is working towards the goals on a regular basis. You get quick feedback from employees on their progress and can improve the guidance you give your people.
If you aren't using Weekdone to help your employees set good goals, we offer a free trial so there's nothing to lose.