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May 9, 2024

21 Employee Goal-Setting Examples to Boost Your Performance

A target that has three arrows hitting the center

Setting a goal is like charting a path to success. But without a roadmap, that path can get a little hazy.

If you’re here, you already know you need employee performance goal examples to set better, clearer goals to increase employee motivation and get the best possible performance for the business. But what does that actually look like?

In this guide, we’ll help you set challenging yet achievable goals to help your employees feel engaged, committed, and empowered in their work.

With clear goal-setting examples and simple formulas to help you create your own, you can help your goal-setters become go-getters.

Why is it important to set the right employee goals?

Goal setting isn’t just about meeting the mark – it’s about motivating your team and driving performance. 

Benchmark studies show that teams with clear goals see a 20-25% boost in work performance. That internal compassing also improves workers’ self-confidence, stress levels, and more.

But the problem lies in setting good performance goals. 

According to Breezy’s 2023 Hiring Challenges Survey, 34% of employers face challenges in setting, monitoring, or achieving individual goals. And according to experts, much of the trouble with goal-setting is tunnel vision.

“Sometimes when you set a goal, it creates tunnel vision and it blinds you to alternative goals,” explains organizational psychologist Adam Grant. This hyper-focus can prevent you from seeing a wide range of other pathways to success.

Instead of focusing on arbitrary numbers or balky benchmarks, focus on strategies and overall excellence. And above all, remember that goal-setting should be a collaborative effort between employee and manager.

Make goal-driven performance a reality. Try Breezy Perform free for 14 days and set clear goals everyone can get behind.

Common frameworks for setting employee goals

After surveying hundreds of employers for Breezy’s 2023 Hiring Challenges Report, we found that over 40% have trouble managing poor performers and nearly just as many struggle to identify and address performance issues in the first place.

But you can’t fix what you can’t see. And according to research, unclear goals and poor communication around those goals are the biggest hurdles to strong organizational performance.

Don’t shoot from the hip with next quarter’s goals. Instead, use one of the following employee goal-setting frameworks to keep your employees accountable and your process agile.

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound (SMART)

SMART goals are the gold standard in goal-setting.

Grounded in the five key elements that make a goal effective, SMART goals provide structure and clarity, helping employees understand exactly what it is they’re working toward and how success is measured. By breaking down big-picture goals into smaller, actionable steps, the SMART goal-setting framework ensures your goals are achievable.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

Almost every company sets company goals. However, only 16% of workers believe their employer effectively sets and communicates those goals. 

With OKRs, you can communicate your team goals soup-to-nuts by determining what you want to achieve and the metrics and KPIs you'll use to measure progress in employee performance reviews and check-ins. OKRs are tied to your team member’s daily tasks, and follow a very straightforward framework: I will [objective] as measured by [key result].

Objectives represent the big qualitative goals you want to achieve long term, while Key Results are the specific, measurable milestones that track an employee’s progress towards those objectives. By creating a linear relationship between the two, it’s easier to think about your business goals holistically.

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG)

Though the acronym may be a little silly, the driving principle behind BHAGs is anything but. Think of these as the Mt. Everest of business objectives. Ambitious and bold, these long-term management goals serve as a unifying force, rallying teams around a common vision and pushing them to achieve greatness.

“A sign that you’ve chosen the right BHAG is that it’s terrifying and inspiring in equal measure,” explains Tessa Clarke, co-founder and CEO of local sharing app OLIO. “On the more challenging days when trying to manifest our BHAG we take inspiration from the words of the anthropologist and author Margaret Mead, who said: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.’ And then we get to work.”

Whether you want to achieve zero waste by a certain date or expand globally in ‘x’ number of years, setting a BHAG inspires you to dream your wildest business dream – and encourage employees to make it a reality.

Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan (WOOP)

Studies show that setting challenging goals can help fight mental fatigue at work, while increasing resilience and job satisfaction. That’s where WOOP comes in.

What makes WOOP different from other frameworks is its emphasis on mental contrasting. Rather than imagining the best outcome to set performance goals, WOOP challenges you to anticipate obstacles – and prepare to overcome them.

The process involves four steps: (1) Wish: Identifying your ultimate goal (2) Outcome: Imagining the best possible outcome, (3) Obstacle: Identifying the internal obstacles that may stand in your way, and (4) Plan: Formulating specific actions to overcome obstacles and achieve the goal.

By facing the stumbling blocks ahead of time, WOOP helps managers and employees anticipate challenges and continue to meet their goals head-on. This realism-meets-idealism approach helps employees tackle challenges without the fear of failure. After all, you’ve already prepared for the worst.

7 employee goals examples to level up performance 

No matter which one you use, your goal-setting framework is only as effective as the individual goals you’re setting. 

Rather than obsessing over the details of any one framework, shift your focus to broad performance-boosting targets like the following.

1. Quality of work

Quality of work is about hitting the mark with precision. It’s a standard of excellence encompassing everything from consistency to attention to detail.

For example, in a sales role, quality of work isn’t just about meeting revenue targets. It’s also about building customer trust along the way. Reps must provide accurate product information and address customer concerns effectively, all while following up promptly on sales leads.

Sample goals for this role could include:

  • Increase your customer satisfaction rating from x to y.
  • Reduce the number of errors in sales proposals.
  • Complete x product training courses to improve new product knowledge and enhance customer service.

2. Collaboration

You already know teamwork makes the dream work. Collaboration is critical for reaching a common goal.

Take your finance team for instance. Even in a decidedly “back office” role, collaboration is essential for coordinating your budgeting processes and strategic forward planning. Employees need to connect with coworkers from other departments in order to gather data, analyze financial performance, develop budget forecasts, and more.

Sample goals for this role could include:

  • Organize monthly finance team meetings to share updates, discuss challenges, and brainstorm solutions collaboratively.
  • Implement a collaborative budgeting process involving input from department heads to ensure alignment with company objectives.
  • Collaborate with IT, analytics teams and other stakeholders to enhance financial reporting capabilities with new technology and automation.

3. Professional growth

From mastering new techniques and certifications to soaking up knowledge like a sponge, career growth and professional development goals are all about striving to be better.

And we don’t have to tell you that in an HR role, professional growth is essential for staying updated on industry trends, best practices, and regulatory changes.

Sample goals for this role could include:

  • Complete one online course or certification program per quarter to enhance expertise and personal development.
  • Attend at least two employee development workshops or conferences within the next year to expand industry knowledge and network with peers.
  • Join a professional association or networking group to stay connected with industry trends and best practices.

4. Soft skills

Soft skills are interpersonal abilities that enable effective communication, collaboration, and relationship-building. They relate to how you work rather than what you do. And with the right approach to developing employee soft skills, you can generate some firm results for your business and company culture.

In a customer service role, soft skill goals such as empathy, active listening, and conflict resolution are crucial for providing excellent customer experiences.

Sample goals for this role could include:

  • Improve listening skills by actively engaging with coworkers during team meetings.
  • Enhance conflict resolution and communication skills by finding common ground when disagreements arise on the job, focusing on solutions that benefit the team.
  • Increase customer NPS score from ‘x’ to ‘x’ by ‘x’ date.

5. Problem-solving

Problem-solving is about finding solutions where others see roadblocks. And as businesses become increasingly digital and data-driven, it’s a key characteristic of any top-performing team.

For example, in an operations role, employees need to analyze data, identify root causes of any blocks or bottlenecks, and implement solutions to optimize team-wide efficiency.

Sample goals for this role could include:

  • Improve troubleshooting skills by actively seeking out opportunities to resolve technical issues independently before escalating them to management or tech support.
  • Lead a team brainstorming session to identify bottlenecks in the workflow and create a plan to improve productivity and efficiency.
  • Reduce project blocks by ‘x%’ by ‘x date’.

6. Creativity

Whether you're crafting campaigns or designing experiences, creativity is what sets you apart from the crowd. A creative workforce helps you innovate, compete, and create dynamic solutions to internal and external challenges.

Creativity is essential in a variety of roles and job functions, but when it comes to your marketing teams, it’s an absolute must.

Sample goals for this role could include:

  • Brainstorm creative marketing campaigns to generate buzz and increase brand visibility.
  • Collaborate with influencers to co-create engaging branded content that resonates with target audiences on social media.
  • Increase prospect engagement by ‘x%’ by ‘x date’.

7. Time management

Time management is all about prioritizing tasks, allocating resources, and managing deadlines to maximize productivity. And it’s usually a whole lot harder than it sounds.

In a project management role, time management skills are paramount to ensuring projects are completed on schedule and within budget.

Sample goals for this role could include:

  • Try a new project scheduling tool to create detailed project timelines with clear milestones and deadlines.
  • Develop a prioritization system for project tasks based on urgency and importance.
  • Reduce project delivery times by ‘x%’ by ‘x date’.

Knock your employee performance goals out of the park

Setting employee performance goals is about more than meeting the mark. 

By linking individual employee actions directly to big-picture organizational goals, you can boost motivation and unite your teams under a clear mission everyone can get behind.

Ready to breathe new life into your goal-setting process? With Breezy Perform, you can access prebuilt templates for a wide range of employee goals. Get seamless customizations and at-a-glance visual tracking to keep your focus on the target (not the admin).

Make your next goal-setting session a home run. Learn more with a free 14-day trial of Breezy Perform.