Employee goal-setting is a key responsibility for any manager. By setting measurable and attainable goals, a supervisor can not only guide improvement in employee performance, but also can actively help strengthen the business and enhance its reputation as an employer of choice.

Here are some considerations for performance planning for employees that can help make these potential benefits a reality:

  • Emphasize attainable goals

Attainment is an important factor in the SMART goal framework. As mentioned above, goal-setting can fail when the objective is overly ambitious or unrealistic, given the employee's skill set and available resources. Burdening an employee with an out-of-reach goal can lead to frustration with the process and a resulting lack of motivation for further improvement. They might think, "Why should I even bother if this is an unreasonable goal for anyone to achieve?"

goal setting for employees

  • Set consistent goals for employees with similar responsibilities

It's the employer's responsibility to foster a healthy working environment that encourages growth opportunities for employees. Goal-setting in the workplace may backfire when it's framed as a contest or competition among employees. It can also quickly undermine a positive work culture. Refrain from encouraging internal rivalries, which can lead to diminished morale, frustration, and resentment.

  • Reward employees who achieve their goals

It's critical to recognize employees who achieve or exceed set goals. Not only does such a recognition (reward, bonus, certificate, or public acknowledgment at a staff meeting) honor that employee's efforts, but it also demonstrates  that the company values this type of commitment and hard work. 

It may even further incentivize the rest of the workforce to work hard on their own goals. Alternatively, when such hard work goes unnoticed, employees can justifiably feel there's no point in working so hard and may reduce their productivity or even begin looking for a new job elsewhere.