Professional aims. Goals. Objectives. Whatever you call them, professional development and personal goals are like bullseyes for your team members. They help focus and direct employee efforts, increasing the chances that your team will succeed.
Table of contents
Here, we’ll cover some ideas for objectives and performance goals for employees, examples, and how to turn these objectives into success.
Understanding the Basics of Performance Goals
At some organizations, leadership and managers ask employees to set goals every year, every quarter, or even every month. The idea is to keep teams continuously improving. When managers and leaders work with employees to set goals, they also have a structure that naturally leads to opportunities for employee recognition and rewards as they celebrate milestones passed.
It’s best that workers decide for themselves what objectives they want to pursue. This way, they get to choose goals that matter to them, which will be most motivating. Taking aim at a specific outcome also helps employees improve, professionally and personally.
Without goals, workers may be making progress, if at all, in an ad hoc way. With specific outcomes in mind, employees can see more focused advancement. And when everyone at your company is focused on continual improvement, your company as a whole can grow in performance.
Performance Objectives: Examples
Let’s look at some performance objective examples. These employee objectives examples for performance reviews and personal achievements are just a start. If you’re working with an employee to develop their goals, this can be a place to turn for ideas.
Learn new core skills
This is an excellent goal to strengthen the basics that allow your workers to do their jobs every day. If your worker is a personal care worker or nurse, patient care is likely a core skill. For a tech worker, learning to fix the latest software may be a core skill.
To figure out what skills to focus on, it’s useful to list out all the abilities, certifications, and needs of a given position. The original job ad for the role or job description can help with this. Employees may want to start with the skills they feel need most improvement.
Advance to the next career level
What is the next step on the career ladder for a particular employee? An employee may hope to move to a managerial or another advanced position, which can be a highly motivating goal. You can help by creating a roadmap together and discussing the steps it would take the employee to get there.
Master a new technology
Technology, such as video conferencing or working with the new SaaS, is part of virtually every job. When marketing staff learn HTML, for example, they may better be able to envision how to build websites that attract visitors. Learning tech can expand what your workers can do at your company and help them build confidence and efficiency.
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Adopt a work-like balance
Overwork has been linked to stress, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease and other serious medical conditions. Creating a work-life balance helps workers schedule time for themselves while achieving their work goals.
Employees who manage this well are healthier and may experience less absenteeism and stress. They may be better able to focus on work, be more productive, and enjoy a better quality of life overall.
Here are some specific ways to proceed with this goal.
- Developing time management skills
- Learning to work with outsourced services or ask for help with work duties
- Improving personal productivity
- Getting organized
Embrace health goals
Most of us know we need to enjoy good sleep, nutritious food in the right amounts, and regular exercise. Your team members may wish to set health goals such as maintaining more activity or reaching a healthy body weight. This helps improve their quality of life and can make them feel better and be more focused at work.
When workers get healthier, your organization may also benefit. You may see lower health insurance costs and fewer health-related absences. In fact, the CDC reports that healthy-weight women see up to 141% fewer work absences and healthy-weight men see 56% fewer missed days when compared with workers who live with obesity. Healthier, happier employees can also be more productive and have higher morale.
To help employees reach their health goals, you can encourage movement breaks, give the option of standing desks, or encourage activity on the job. Some companies organize employees to compete in marathons or play team sports (like softball) together. Others keep track of individual health goals and cheer each other on. They may have a virtual or in-person “health board” where workers can update everyone about their goals to stay accountable.
If you offer health insurance to workers, your insurance provider may have also resources for smoking cessation other wellness programs.
Get better at (both giving and receiving) feedback
Feedback is an important skill for every job, but it’s also not usually taught in school. This can make it a useful goal for employees that can help improve communication and overall team efficiency.
If your organization offers performance reviews, you can improve their effectiveness by training your team how to receive and act on this input. If not, creating another system to send and recieve feedback may be useful.
You can also teach employees how to share constructive criticism and their own ideas, so you can create a culture of learning at your business. Skills to focus on include how to process feedback without taking it personally or how to structure feedback so it’s productive and specific.
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Build soft skills
Soft skills like problem-solving, teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity can help workers in every job. These skills can be transferred from one role to another as an employee advances in your organization, which makes them great performance objectives for employees at any stage of their career.
You can help your team build soft skills by encouraging employees to take part in professional development workshops, webinars, and other learning opportunities where they can learn about and practice these skills.
Enhance work quality
This is one of the most common performance goal examples, and it directly supports better outcomes on the job. Employees may set this goal after a performance review or because they want to advance in their job. You can support workers in this goal by doing the following.
- Giving consistent feedback
- Working together to create KPIs or some way to measure quality
- Encouraging workers to keep track of progress
- Providing specific, actionable details about how the quality of their work can improve
Some work can be difficult to quantify—for example, the quality of a healthcare worker’s performance. There are many elements that can go into “success” in this field, including the number of patients seen, medical outcomes, communications with patients, and patient perspective. There may not be a clear number that indicates “job well done.”
In situations where there is no clear way to quantify work performance, work together with your team to find a way to measure employees’ progress.
Develop communication skills
Whether your teams are interacting with clients or collaborating on projects in-house, they need to be able to express themselves. As a performance objective, improving communication will have great results both for internal discussions and interactions with clients or customers.
Here are some ways to support this performance goal.
- Encouraging public speaking
- Offering training in video conferencing and new forms of communication technology
- Offering business writing lessons
- Suggesting books on grammar and business communication
- Creating a company style sheet with examples to keep written communication consistent and appropriate
Build professional visibility
This performance objective example is chosen less often, but it’s important. When workers are recognized for their expertise by the wider community, they can feel more confident and may find more ways to advance in their careers. Having industry-recognized workers on your teams also helps build your employer brand.
How your organization can help employees with this goal:
- Create company-wide awards to recognize excellent work
- Advertise the winners of your awards on social media and on your company website
- Let workers know about industry-specific conferences and events and encourage employees to attend or even to take part as panel speakers
- Set up booths staffed by employees at local trade shows and industry events
- Nominate your workers for industry awards
- Post about trade magazines and publications and encourage interested workers to write for them
Networking helps your workers improve communication skills and advance their careers. It’s also great for your business, helping get your name in front of others in your industry and building your brand. Your team will get a chance to get to know industry trends, bringing more useful information back to their roles.
You can support this goal by encouraging workers to attend networking events. If there are professional events in your sector, set up a table for your business or encourage workers to act as panel speakers. You can also encourage workers to join LinkedIn or other professional networks and to take part in webinars where they can connect with industry experts.
Internally, a mentoring program can help pair employees with members of the leadership team who can help build connections between employees and other industry professionals through introductions.
Build interpersonal relationships
Workplaces work better when employees collaborate and get along well. Your workers may want to build their social skills or create better relationships at work, and this goal can encourage team cohesion and promote a positive workplace culture.
You can help by encouraging socialization at work through casual, non-work-related online chats. Celebrating holidays together as a company can also bring people together. So can occasional meals together or company picnics and other social events.
Some workers may want to make a difference. This can help them build confidence and feel their work is meaningful, and it benefits your organization, too. If you offer internal opportunities to workers, team members can work on making your workplace a better place through their contributions, for example, volunteering to share their skills and knowledge with other workers.
If employees are giving back to the wider community, this also builds your employer brand, especially if you acknowledge and celebrate their efforts on your business social media accounts and company website.
You can help them by creating committees or employee resource groups (ERGs) where workers can support other team members. A buddy system allows more experienced workers to help answer questions and offer a warm welcome to new team members. You can also post volunteer openings at local non-profits at your company or on your team chats in case any workers are looking for these opportunities.
Reading has many professional and personal benefits. It can slow cognitive decline, help you learn, and build vocabulary. It can even reduce stress by up to 68%. This goal can help keep employees educated about new developments in their field and may give them new perspectives and ideas they can bring to their teams.
You can encourage workers to read by creating reading lists or a book club. Share and discuss books about your field or about professional and personal skills you’re working on developing. You can even set up a fiction list or book club where team members can share their favorite fiction books.
Choosing From Performance Goals for Employees: Examples and Ideas
There’s no shortage of objectives to aim for when it comes to performance reviews and employee personal development. So how can you help workers choose and succeed at their goals? Here are our top suggestions.
- Consider stretch goals
Some aspirations seem a little scary. Introverted employees may balk at the idea of becoming more visible in their field. Yet, giving public speeches or staffing a table at a trade show can still help these employees’ professional and personal growth. It can push someone out of their comfort zone and encourage them to develop new skills.
- Look for ideas that spark excitement
If a team member is having trouble creating goals, encourage them to choose just one or two to focus on. Then ask them which objective sounds the most fun and exciting. Which one feels like it would have the biggest payoff? This kind of goal comes with built-in enthusiasm and often has more drive behind it. Because an employee is already intrigued, it can be easier for them to achieve success.
- Keep it SMART
The above performance objective examples are a great place to start, but they get effective when you make them SMART. SMART is an acronym that helps you make any goal:
- Specific. Try writing down goals and making them as precise and customized as possible. “Improve communication” can be the start of a goal, but it’s best to make it more specific, for example, “I will be able to give a 20-minute presentation about ways to improve customer satisfaction at one trade show in the next quarter.”
- Measurable. Make sure you can track the goal. Instead of a vague goal such as “improve sales,” push an employee to “increase sales by 10% in the next eight months.” This helps make success easy to visualize and measure.
- Attainable. Goals need to be something that your team member can achieve. For example, a goal like “get a 100% perfect customer rating score in the next six months” is specific and measurable, but it may not be attainable. A lot of control over this outcome rests with customers. Even if the employee works really hard, they may still not reach their goal if even one client is having a bad day when they go to fill out a review. A better goal options would be to “improve the number of tech tickets successfully resolved by 8% in the next 12 months.”
- Relevant. Objectives are even more powerful when they align with larger goals. For example, a worker may be hoping to create a mentorship program at your organization within the next two months. That goal may also link to a company goal of building a better workplace culture. It may connect to the employee’s desire to make a difference. By choosing goals that are relevant to other goals, you can help keep workers motivated and inspired. They can see their work as part of something bigger, like a company-wide goal.
- Time-bound. A deadline creates urgency and makes sure that efforts to succeed aren’t put on the backburner. Choose a date for goal completion, and help employees stick with it.
- Break it Down
An objective tells employees where they’re headed, but how do they get there? Breaking down big goals into actionable steps for the current month, week, and day makes success attainable. Create a plan and encourage your workers to schedule time to work on their goals every day or every week. Consistent action leads to big results.
- Stay accountable
Help your workers achieve success by keeping them accountable. You might want to check in with them every so often or set up an accountability system. They might commit to sending managers, or someone else on the team, goal updates every few weeks.
Knowing someone else is tracking progress can inspire action. One 2019 study from Ohio State University even found that when goal-setters shared their goals with someone, especially someone of a higher status, they were more likely to achieve what they set out to do. Accountability makes a difference!
Performance Goals for Your Success
Performance goals for workers can inspire them and help them make real progress, professionally and personally. As a manager or other company leader, you can help with systems and encouragement that help team members define their goals and reach the finish line. These 14 ideas should give you inspiration for how to motivate your team to reach for success.