Setting the right performance goals can help you work better and boost professional development.
But how do you set good, effective performance goals and work objectives?
Coming up, we’ll look at examples of job performance goals for employees in various industries, and how to approach goal-setting for best results.
The following are work performance goal examples for employees.
Whether you’re looking to write your own personal performance goals or set employee goals for your team, the upcoming examples will help you write smart goals that work.
I will improve my work accuracy in data entry tasks by 20% within six weeks while completing 30% more total work per week, measured in the number of lines of data entered in Excel.
I will become 20% more efficient in my work, measured by the number of IT helpdesk requests I’m able to complete per day for team members in our department. I’ll reach this goal within three months.
Now that we’ve looked at a couple of general examples of setting professional development objectives, let’s look at some more specific scenarios of performance-based goals in various jobs/careers.
In the next three months, I will improve my average number of phone customers served per day from 30 to 45 while maintaining a customer satisfaction rating of 95% or above.
I will practice active listening for 15 minutes per day with my supervisor to be able to better serve customers over the phone. Employee performance target: Increase customer satisfaction rating from 85% to 90%, and reduce customer complaints received by 50% by end of year.
This last example of performance goals and objectives would be suitable for someone who was struggling in customer service and receiving customer complaints.
Professional goals can be used to motivate and facilitate growth, but also to correct problems.
When setting your own goals, determine if you’re looking to simply improve workplace performance or correct a specific issue, and then set goals accordingly.
In the next year, I will grow the value of the client accounts under my management from $2 million to $4 million through networking, selling additional services to existing clients, and cold outreach to new business prospects.
I will close three new sales per week on average over the next six months, by making at least fifty outbound sales calls per day and following up at least two times with each prospect who has not responded.
I will build my self-management skills to the point of only needing to check in with my boss once per week, and I will achieve this by the end of the month. I’ll set up a once-per-week process of logging my work as well as any questions I have, and then I’ll take that information to my manager each Friday.
In the next eight weeks, I will build soft skills such as self-management and creative thinking to the point where I can work alone and unsupervised for an entire 8-hour shift. I will be able to handle all issues that arise during a typical shift without the help of other team members, while hitting all key performance indicators as specified in my job description.
I will streamline the company’s inbound request process so that all new requests are routed automatically to the appropriate department, through an online form where customers can select their reason for contact. I will build this software tool within three weeks and then gather feedback/data to further optimize over the next two weeks.
I will develop a new content creation process for the company blog, article templates for the top five topics we write about, social media sharing templates, and a list of best practices for the editorial team to follow. This will boost employee performance in the content and marketing departments and allow the company to double the amount of blog content we publish per month.
I am setting a professional development goal to improve my skills in presenting and public speaking by speaking to a group for at least two hours per week for the next three months. I will obtain these speaking opportunities by volunteering in the local community and also leading one to two meetings per week at work, as previously discussed with my manager.
My goal is to improve my active listening and conflict resolution skills so that I can be promoted to Customer Service Supervisor within six months. I will achieve this by participating in two training sessions per month with my manager, and meeting twice per week with my manager to go over my recent customer service calls to discuss opportunities to improve.
I will boost employee retention by 30% by implementing a new training and onboarding process to better prepare new hires for the job, launching an employee profit-sharing initiative, and following up with each new employee 4 weeks, 10 weeks, and 20 weeks after they’re hired.
I will increase the average employee performance on my team by 10% as measured in total sales revenue generated per team member. To achieve this, I’ll conduct two new sales training sessions to help the team practice active listening, handling objections on the phone, and closing deals. I’ll encourage self-management by reducing the number of weekly check-ins from two to one for each employee, giving team members more time to spend on sales tasks and more freedom to make decisions.
In the next two years, I will build my sales/negotiating skills as well as my people management skills to earn a promotion to Director of Sales. Each quarter, I will beat my prior sales numbers by at least 10%, while taking on more leadership responsibilities including training and mentoring junior team members. I will assist at least five junior team members per quarter in their professional development while maintaining my individual sales goals.
Three years from now, I want to own my own small accounting practice with at least ten clients paying me a minimum of $10,000 per month.
It’s helpful to set short-term goals to improve in a particular skill, but for general career advancement and maximum growth in your professional life, you need to think more than a year ahead.
That’s where the final goal-setting example above can help you… beyond the one-year mark.
I suggest looking at a short time frame (3-6 months) as well as a long time frame (1-2 years or more) when setting work performance objectives.
Set measurable goals in the short term but also think about your desired career path in two, three, or even four years, and how you plan to get there.
Set goals and objectives around your long-term career vision, with a plan for how you’ll check in on those goals.
Do this and you will be more likely to reach those goals.
The professional goals above are far from the only types of goals you can set.
Depending on the role/career path, you can also consider setting objectives such as:
Your approach to performance goal setting will depend entirely on the role.
Employee development for a software engineer looks a lot different than an HR generalist.
Work performance can be measured depending on each company and the role-specific metrics. Usually, you focus either on interpersonal/soft skills or technical/hard skills. Sometimes both.
Whether you’re writing work performance goals for employees or yourself, you’re going to see much more success if you stick to setting SMART Goals.
Your performance and professional development goals should be SMART goals, which means:
An example of an unclear/weak professional goal is:
I want to have better self-management skills by the end of the month.
Here’s another example of a goal that is unlikely to help you achieve much:
I want to improve my communication skills.
Whereas, a SMART goal would be written like this:
I am going to improve my communication skills to the point where I can confidently lead meetings and client calls within 3 months of today. To achieve this, I plan on doing ___ for ___ hours per week.
The following is a template you can use in your goal-setting process to ensure that you’re writing SMART goals.
I am going to achieve <goal> in <timeframe>. I’ll measure success by <specific, measurable result you want to achieve; how will you know you’ve succeeded?>. To achieve this, I plan on doing <specific actions you’ll take to reach your objective>.
When using this template, always ensure that you’re setting a realistic goal. It won’t help motivate you (or any employees you manage) if you’re setting goals that are too far out of reach.
If you’re setting employee performance goals for your team, consider looking into whether you can reward employees for the company’s overall success.
For example, in a fast-growing, sales-driven organization that I worked for early in my career, each employee (around 500 in total) was given $600 if the company hit its sales goals per quarter.
This encouraged each team member to work hard and work together to reach these goals and objectives. Everyone bought into this goal… not just salespeople.
Team members were active on various company communication channels to track progress, help each other, and refer business between departments when appropriate.
It was a massive success in terms of employee engagement.
So after you set work goals and objectives for each team member, talk to executive leadership and discuss whether you can go beyond employee goals and also write company performance goals that benefit all.
There’s another category of work goals that we haven’t discussed yet: personal development goals.
Setting great personal goals can help you build your soft skills, gain confidence, and advance your career and personal life.
You could set a soft skill goal, like, “I want to talk to one stranger per day to build confidence and start improving my ability to speak comfortably in public.”
So after you set some professional development goals, think about if you can set one or two personal development goals to build soft skills that will benefit your career/life.
If you’ve read the tips and job performance goals examples above, you have a great starting point for goal setting, whether you’re writing employee goals or setting objectives for your own work/career.
Remember to set specific and measurable goals, and write down exactly how you’ll reach the end goal in the timeframe you’ve allotted.
Your team will be more likely to achieve an employee performance goal if it’s specific and they know exactly what to do.
And when setting goals for yourself, you’ll be more motivated and action-oriented if your goals are specific and clear, too.
Review the section above on SMART goals if you just skipped down to this part of the article, because you’re far more likely to achieve success if you follow that framework for writing work goals.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
Get our free PDF with the top 30 interview questions and answers. Join 10,000+ job seekers in our email newsletter and we'll send you the 30 must-know questions, plus our best insider tips for turning interviews into job offers.