Writing Employee Performance Goals



Employee performance goals are performance expectations related to his or her job tasks and responsibilities that are to be accomplished over the course of a business year.


About Employee Performance Goals

Performance goals are accomplishments set for specific duties or tasks related to an employee’s position. Employee goals are intended to focus attention and resources on what is most important so the employee can be successful in achieving the organization’s objectives. Therefore, employee goals should be aligned with the overall organizational goals.

Setting individual performance goals provides a network of goals for the organization. It ties the larger organizational and departmental goals to the smaller goals of each employee. This way the entire organization is working together to accomplish their strategic objectives.



Steps in Writing Employee Performance Goals

  1. Review the organization’s strategic goals and objectives.
  2. Think about the employee’s job responsibilities and results for which he or she is accountable.
  3. Think about how the employee’s job tasks and responsibilities are connected to the organization’s strategic goals and objectives.
  4. Group the employee’s tasks, duties, and responsibilities into broad areas. You should have a group or category for every major aspects of the employee’s job. For example, categories may include customer service, communications, leadership, technical knowledge, or productivity.
  5. Label these broad areas (or “buckets”) of responsibility.
  6. Connect each bucket to an organizational strategic goal or objective.
  7. Craft one or more performance goal statements for each bucket.
  8. Review each statement to insure it has the following criteria; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.


Writing Performance Goal Statements

After you have reviewed the organization’s objectives and categorized the employee’s tasks into buckets, it is time to write the goal statements. First, determine the objective then write the goals statements so they meet the following criteria; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.



Objectives of Employee Performance Goals

The first step in writing a goal statement is to determine the objective. Performance goals are typically intended to do one of the following:

  • Increase something
  • Decrease something
  • Develop something
  • Improve something
  • Save something


Objectives of Performance Goals

Objectives Examples
Increase something revenue, satisfaction, productivity, quality, market share, retention rate, visibility, effectiveness, compliance, agility
Decrease something expenses, time, risk, waste, turnover, rates
Develop something policies, procedures, training, documents, reports, presentations
Improve something processes, efficiencies, workflow, outcomes, relationships, response time, customer feedback
Save something time, money, space, energy


Chose a bucket (i.e. customer service, leadership, technical knowledge, etc.…) you identified for the employee then determine if there is a need to increase, decrease, develop, save, or improve something associated with the employee’s tasks.

Create at least one goal statement for every category (bucket).


Customer service – increase customer satisfaction

Leadership – Develop a leadership program

Productivity – improve workflows



Goal Criteria

After you have determined what you would like the employee to do, add specific details on the expectations. Goals should be written so they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). This format provides clear communication between employees and supervisors/mangers.




Every goal should be detailed and state the exact level of performance expected. Therefore, explain with enough detail what is expected so it can be clearly understood by those involved in its completion.




There should be a way to measure and determine whether a goal has been achieved.

Therefore, each goal should contain a measurable indicator to assess the amount of progress and to definitely determine if the goal has been accomplished.

Measurement can answer the questions;

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How well?


You should also include how it will be measured. Some typical data collection methods may include:

  • Reports
  • Audits
  • Inspections
  • Customer surveys
  • Observations
  • Other documentation


  • Decrease customer complaints by 10% based on internal statistical report.
  • Maintain a customer satisfaction rate of 80% based on the monthly customer service surveys.




Make sure the goal is achievable. You want to stretch the employees, but you do not want to set them up for failure. The goals should be ambitious, but realistic. The best goals require the employee to stretch his or her abilities, but not so far that the goal cannot be attained.

It is important to find the right balance when setting goals. Setting goals too high is more detrimental then setting them too low. Setting them too low usually just results in less being achieved. On the contrary, setting goals too high can lead to several negative results including frustration, demotivation, disgruntlement, and turnover.




The goals should be relevant to the employee’s tasks and job responsibilities. If the goals fall outside of the employee’s responsibilities, they may become torn between achieving the goal and doing their job. Sometimes when supervisors or manager try to align employee goals with organizational goals they create a goal that is not relevant to the employee’s tasks and responsibilities. Therefore, it is important to ensure the goal aligns the organization’s objectives with the employee’s job tasks.



Each goal should specify when the result(s) will be achieved. There should be a target date for completion.

Each goal have an end point that can be found on a calendar.

  • By the end of the third quarter
  • By the end of the year
  • By June 30, 2018


A commitment to a deadline helps the employee focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the set time. It also allows them to set up milestones along the way to help them gauge if they are on target to meet the goal.




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