Managing Employee Performance with SMART Goals

 In Employee Engagement, Employees, Human Resources, Training & Development

Goals shouldn’t be easy, but there should be reasonable expectations allowing employees to achieve them…

Effective goals can motivate your employees, improve performance and increase productivity by helping your employees focus on the right tasks. The best goals follow the SMART format, meaning they’re:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely


Focus your goal on a specific accomplishment or behavior you want, and your employee will be more motivated and likely to achieve it.

For example, “Take more initiative,” is a goal that’s vague, and open to interpretation. A more specific goal might be: “Notify a team leader, and make outbound calls to customers for the remainder of the day when all other responsibilities are complete.”

For each goal, be clear about:

  • Who’s involved.
  • What needs to be accomplished.
  • Where the activities take place.
  • When the activity or behavior should take place.
  • Why the goal is important.
  • The tools or processes required to achieve the goal.


Without a measure, there’s no way to determine whether an employee accomplished the goal. Measurable goals include quantifiable outcomes. Consider these three goals:

  • Reconcile each account on the general ledger by the second business day of each month.
  • Earn an average of at least three customer service monthly ratings from satisfaction surveys.
  • Close 12 sales per month.


Goals shouldn’t be easy, but there should be reasonable expectations allowing employees to achieve them. Managers or supervisors have to make sure employees have the right resources to make goals attainable.

If a goal becomes unattainable because priorities change, revise the goal to reflect those changes, or pick a new goal.


Every employee should understand their role in your organization’s mission, vision and business strategy. Ideally, each goal on an employee’s performance plan will relate to a goal on a department’s strategic plan, or the company’s overall plan. Mix short-term and long-term goals so they’re relevant and achievable for all employees.


Have starting and ending points with milestones along the way to gauge progress. Setting timely limits helps employees focus their efforts toward achieving goals.

SMART goals provide a great framework for employees to improve their performance at work. Not only do SMART goals provide guidance to employees, they help encourage a performance centered culture. Want more information on tools to help manage employee performance? Contact us today.

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