Learn are usually related to the overall

Learn what performance goals are and how they are vital to your job success. Find out the keys to setting effective SMART goals, and see a few examples of how these goals can be written.

Defining Performance Goals

Do you have a desire to work for a big corporation? Or, maybe you want to manage people or even own your own business? Have you ever wanted a transfer to a new department, get promoted, or get a pay raise? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may need to read this lesson. These things are usually only possible when employees set and meet basic performance goals dealing in areas such as motivation, productivity, accountability and job satisfaction.Performance goals are short-term objectives set for specific duties or tasks in your current job position.

These goals are usually related to the overall company goals or specific department goals where you work. They help you know what is expected of you in your position. To be effective, it is important that they are clearly defined and easy to measure.

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How Are Performance Goals Created

Where do these goals come from? A best practice is that a manager and employee work together to create goals that are specific both to the job and to the aspirations of the employee. This will help ensure that the employee is engaged and buys in to the company’s goals. Goals can also come from the highest parts of the company.

For example, if an employee wants to attain a project manager role, it would be important for the manager to include a goal or two that involves the assignment of a few special projects. The manager might define timelines, types of projects, and ways to measure the project’s success. The employee’s future ability to get additional projects would most likely be driven by their ability to successfully achieve their current performance goals.

Why Are Performance Goals Important?

Why set goals? At a very basic level, most people like to know how they are performing. They also prefer to have a road map that helps keep them focused and prioritized on the right things. Performance goals help do this.

They can also be vital in getting a promotion or pay raise because they are often used to gauge employee performance. At a higher level in the organization, executives like to create performance goals to make sure the overall company goals and those of the specific departments and employees are aligned. For example, if the main focus of the company is to reduce operating expenses by 20%, but many of the departments are hiring more sales employees, investing in new expensive software, and buying new equipment to help drive sales, the likelihood of reaching the expense goal of the company is very slim.


Setting SMART goals is an important part of performance goal setting and a mainstream technique used in corporate America. Using SMART methods require goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-sensitive

Using SMART goals is an extremely effective way to establish employee performance goals and create a path to reaching those goals. When goals are set that do not contain these elements, they often lead to confusion and difficulty in holding managers and employees accountable.


Performance goals can be created around training, growth and sales initiatives, special projects, and other essential parts of a job.

Here are a few examples of goals for an employee and manager in different types of industries or departments.

Training goal for IT department:

  • Employee – Take three classes this year that improve your skills and knowledge in Microsoft office programs.
  • Manager – Create and lead two department-wide training classes before July 1st that help employees learn the new company software. Achieve at least 90% attendance from employees.

Sales or Growth goal for Sales department:

  • Employee – Achieve three new clients a week through company phone calling, local marketing, and referral program.
  • Manager – Increase clients served by 15% through new company sales techniques.

Performance specific goal for Retail Department:

  • Employee – Close out the cash drawer on all scheduled days. Achieve 95% accuracy in completing all nightly close out procedures.
  • Manager – Ensure 95% of all nightly cash deposits are received by the bank within 48 hours of closing.

    Achieve 100% timely deposit in 72 hours.

Lesson Summary

Performance goals are short-term objectives set for specific duties or tasks in your current job position. These goals help employees know what is expected of them in their position and help ensure management that employees are focused on the right things.

Setting and achieving performance goals is a vital part of being promoted or getting that pay raise you desire. Managers and employees should work together to create SMART goals, which are an extremely effective way to establish employee performance goals and create a path to reaching those goals. The goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-sensitive

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