Job Performance Goals & Objectives

by Stephanie Faris ; Updated October 24, 2018
Performance rating and appraisal form

Good employee management is essential to business health. For every worker who leaves, management has to invest time and money into finding a replacement. If, on the other hand, you can create a strong team of happy employees who stick around year-after-year, you can focus on growing your business. One of the top reasons employees leave is that they don’t feel as though they’re integral to the team. Providing clear direction from the start can be the best way to avoid that disconnected feeling and ensure employees stick around.

What Are Work Performance Objectives?

From the time an employee is hired, he has a specific role within the organization. That role comes with assigned duties and expectations. If it’s a brand-new position, that role may not be immediately clear, but it’s still important that a supervisor outline what’s expected of the person in that position. The duties and expectations can be put on paper as “work performance objectives,” a set of goals you have for the person who holds a particular role in your organization.

Before you can create work performance objectives for an employee, though, you’ll first need to know what you hope the person will achieve. If you’re hiring a salesperson, for instance, your goal might be to increase your client base by 5 percent within the first year. Once you have that overall goal, you’ll need to break it down into small, controllable objectives that the employee can use as a job performance plan.

Writing Performance Objectives

When describing examples of good performance objectives, experts often use something called “SMART Goals,” which is a time management concept. “SMART” is an acronym that states that all of your objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. This simply means that your employee should have very specific, but attainable, time-sensitive goals and the achievement of those goals should be measurable.

If you want to increase your sales numbers, for instance, you’ll need to outline specific, achievable, and measurable things the employee can do, relevant to the job, within a set period. For instance, the salesperson may be asked to do a minimum of 20 presentations per week and promptly input the information into a database. Giving the employee goals she can control, like presentations, will equip her to be successful, rather than forcing her to focus on something she can’t control, like her weekly sales figures.

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How to Write SMART Goals

It’s one thing to define goal-setting. It’s quite another to create an actual list of those goals. If you have a team, bring everyone to the conference room and come up with a list of objectives you hope to achieve as a team. This will then allow you to break those goals down into smaller pieces that each employee can work toward. Whether you’re creating a new position or hiring for one that has been vacated, you’ll be able to make a list of objectives for the new position that can help fill in the areas your other staff members aren’t covering.

As you’re writing your employee’s performance objectives, remember measurability. Often this means incorporating numbers into the goals you write. If you’re hiring for a call center, for instance, you’ll insert a specific number of calls the employee in question should successfully complete each day. If you’re hiring a grant writer, you’ll likely want to attach a number to how much you hope to improve upon your existing company funding. Once you’ve outlined your objectives, you should be able to get a clear picture of the type of employee who would be ideal for the job.

Good Personal Development Goals for Work

Employees aren’t the only ones who should have performance goals attached to the work they do. Even leaders need to set personal goals for themselves and regularly follow up to make sure they’re working toward accomplishing them. Your own leadership goals could include personal development tasks like taking workshops or reading books on how to be a more effective leader. You may also set goals to reduce the workload of your team through efforts such as hiring additional staff or automating certain tasks.

You should also hold yourself accountable for your performance by asking your team to evaluate you periodically. This can be done anonymously, through apps or suggestion boxes, so that they can openly provide feedback. Drop your defenses and truly listen to what employees are saying about how you’re doing as a leader, then make an effort to improve in the areas where it’s needed. Not only will this help you grow, but it will also show your team that it’s important that the work environment is a positive one.

Effectively Measuring Performance

Having work objectives in place is the first important step toward guiding a team in the right direction. On a periodic basis, you’ll need to review each employee’s progress and discuss how he’s doing in meeting his goals. You can also use this opportunity to talk about any new goals either of you has for his future with the company. Whether or not you should score the employee depends on your stance on whether performance reviews are effective. Some experts believe it’s more important to have an open line of communication with the employee where you simply discuss performance rather than attach a grade to the employee and criticize where he might be going wrong.

However you handle performance reviews, though, the performance objectives you put in place on the employee’s first day don’t need to remain in place for that employee’s entire tenure with the company. Once each year, take a look at every employee’s performance objectives and make sure they still match the overall direction of the company since things can easily change from one year to the next. Once you’ve determined what you need to change, share that information with the employee and ask if he has any feedback on what he’d like to include.

Setting Business Objectives

As you studied how to set goals and objectives for employees, you likely relied heavily on the goals and objectives you set for the business as a whole. If you have a mission statement, you should take a look at it at least once a year and make sure you’re still on track with what you originally wanted to accomplish. One method for writing business objectives is the five-step goal-setting process. The five steps are:

  • Define what you want: Determine what you hope to accomplish for your business, both in the near and distant future, and consider why you want those things.
  • Find congruence: Compare what you want with your values, beliefs and lifestyle, and make sure it fits. If it doesn’t fit, you’ll encounter problems down the line.
  • Do an ecology check: Consider how your goal will impact others and what sacrifices you’ll need to make to achieve your goal.
  • Develop a blueprint: Once you’ve set a goal for your business, map out your planned journey, accounting for potential obstacles you’ll encounter along the way.
  • Create a plan of action: Now that you’ve outlined your goal and mapped your course, it’s time to create a plan to get where you want to go.

Regularly revisit your business objectives, just as you periodically look at the performance goals for yourself and your employees. Over time, you’ll find being in tune with where you are and where you hope to be in the future will help your entire business thrive.

About the Author

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.

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