How to set employee goals

by Carly Clyne | Nov 07, 2021

time icon 3 mins

Much of a company’s strategic planning centres on overarching business goals – but within those (and within their OKR framework), individually-focused employee goals are essential for sustained success.

Amongst other things, setting good employee goals enables you to supercharge your workforce, maintaining motivated, productive teams that drive you towards your future objectives.

What are employee goals? 

Employee goals are individually-focused goals that enable your team members to maximise their potential and allow you to more accurately measure their performance. If you think of a company objective as the structure of a house – the beams, girdles and foundations – employee goals are the nuts, bolts and screws that hold it together. If your business strategy is underpinned by good employee goals, it’s more difficult to achieve wider OKRs. 

What are the benefits of setting employee goals?

Common benefits of employee goals include… 

  • Increased employee engagement, motivation and productivity
  • Better staff retention and job satisfaction
  • Enhanced company culture
  • Easier identification of employee strengths and talents  

How to write good employee goals

Good employee goals have a number of key characteristics. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Alignment with your overall company growth strategy
  • A focus on being engaging and exciting
  • Job-specificity – tailored to their role within the company
  • Positivity – designed to play on employee strengths whilst bolstering areas for improvement
  • Clarity – ideally employee goals should be SMART (specific measurable, relevant and time-based)
  • Consistency – the goals must be both consistent with your company and other employee goals
  • Achievability – goals must be realistic and attainable

5 excellent examples of employee goals

So, where should you start when writing employee goals? As with all goals and OKRs, seeing some successful examples to inspire you is a great way to begin setting and implementing individual objectives. These examples of employee goals should get those creative juices flowing – just apply the general structure to your own employees and company culture.

Professional development goals

Perhaps one of the most common types of employee goals, this kind of strategy enables employees to learn essential skills to ensure your company remains competitive.

Eg: Complete a course in (X) by the end of the year. Attend training on (X) for 6 months.

Self-management goals

Self-management encompasses an employee’s adaptability, accountability and productivity. These skills and attributes by default benefit your company and teams as they essentially enhance productivity and progression.  

Eg: Develop better time management in order to fulfil responsibilities associated with the role.

People management goals

One for the managers and team leaders but also employees in non-leadership roles, these types of employee goals focus on honing communication skills and the ability to motivate others.

Eg: Communicate with other departments for 6 months to understand what they do and how your team can better support them. Attend a training course on team motivation.

Creativity goals

This is a really nice example as it demonstrates how good employee goals aren’t always set in the workplace – some focus on personal development outside of an employee’s immediate position within the company. The benefits of creative activities have far-reaching benefits, including stress management and creative thinking.

Eg: Learn to paint during the weekends for two quarters. Do yoga twice a week for at least 6 months.

Decision-making goals

Decision-making can be a tricky skill to develop – but by supporting your employees to be perceptive and confident this vital attribute can be a game-changer for businesses, especially at management level.

Eg: Train in probability within the next three months. Do not postpone difficult and important decisions that must be made, instead of making them in a timely manner.

There are numerous types of employee goals and examples out there – so we suggest browsing these first to see which ones fit best within your organisation.

Using OKRs to write employee goals

The versatile nature of OKRs lends them perfectly to the art of writing employee goals. When using OKRs to set employee goals, you’re essentially breaking down the overarching objective further into bitesize chunks that set out a clear, achievable roadmap to your ultimate destination.

OKRs really strengthen any good employee goal as they provide a firm yet flexible framework employees can follow to effectively track their progress, keeping them motivated and allowing you to see what’s working (and what isn’t) along the way.

Here’s an example to get you started:

Objective: Move up from junior to senior management consultant in 18 months.

Key Result (1): Complete the company management course.

Key Result (2): Train 2 new employees.

Key Result (3): Create a performance report demonstrating successes in recent client work to present to senior management.

Where does TBG come in?

At TBG we love helping businesses and their employees to reach their full potential through implementing OKRs that drive them forward. Through our tried and tested methods, we support businesses to put solid progression plans in place, including employee goals and company-wide targets. Learn more about our philosophy and see our past results here

Alternatively, contact the TBG team directly to see how we can help you use them to improve your employees’ progression.