10 Employee Performance Goals Examples for Leaders


This article maps out an in-depth framework with examples to help companies define and set meaningful employee performance goals. Setting better performance goals will help everyone thrive.

Did you know:
  • People are 42% more likely to achieve goals when they are physically recorded?
  • Teams that set goals achieve  20 to 25% improved work performance, have more self-confidence, and are less stressed, happier, and more productive at work?
  • Employee performance increases by up to 22% when their goals are aligned with organizational priorities and help them meet changing needs, collaborate with peers, and hold themselves accountable?

Forget those traditional do-it-yourself methods for establishing employee performance goals — like tracking them on spreadsheets and distributing paper files. Get the entire process done better with Ninety. You can create a measurable way to access employee goals that are agreed upon by everyone. Here’s how.


What Are Employee Performance Goals?

Performance goals are well-defined objectives for an employee to accomplish so they can achieve the desired success in their work. These objectives relate to a person’s accountability, productivity, and job satisfaction.

Performance goals are determined by both you and the employee based on:

  • The Seat they hold.
  • The tasks and duties required to do the work of the Seat.
  • How the objectives support and fulfill overall company goals.


Why Are Performance Goals Important?

Good goal-setting helps motivate team members. When they know what is expected of them, people are more likely to accomplish what they set out to do and perform better. Goals that are relevant to their personal aspirations keep them more engaged.

When performance goals are clearly defined, they can be measured more easily, help determine a better purpose for each employee, and often create a specific career path for them.


10 Employee Performance Goal Examples

Both leaders and teams benefit from reviewing sample goals for employees. They can get an idea of what a goal could involve based on what makes sense for a team member’s development and overall company priorities. Here are 10 examples of goal-setting themes. 

1. Self-Leadership Goals

Improving personal abilities on your own for the betterment of yourself, your team, and your company. Skills to improve include adaptability, productivity, accountability, decision-making, focus, time management, and more.

2. Collaboration Goals

Supporting colleagues in achieving their goals will directly influence personal motivation, productivity, and performance. This, in turn, affects the resilience of the entire team.

3. Creativity Goals

Cultivating creative thinking to improve the implementation of assigned duties and tasks. This contributes to personal development, improved productivity, and company growth.

4. Soft Skills Goals

Developing core skills, common skills, or people skills that are generally not taught in school to create a happier workplace with more engaged team members. Soft skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, professional writing, leadership, public speaking, a strong work ethic, perceptiveness, awareness, compassion, adaptability, growth mindset, and more.

5. Decision-Making Goals

Thinking objectively to make choices based on available information, time sensitivity, and relevant performance priorities. Learning to make quick, thoughtful decisions can help bond a team and strengthen the company’s position in the industry.

6. Leadership Goals

Showing ability as a team player, using communication skills to motivate others, preparing others for success, and aligning with different departments to strengthen the operation of the entire company.

7. Emotional Intelligence Goals

Keeping emotions in check, no matter what kind of day people are having. Staying cool, calm, collected, and empathizing with others to defuse a toxic work environment — or avoiding one completely — will help improve productivity, especially under stressful circumstances.

8. Negotiating Goals

Creating a healthy dialogue between parties to reach common ground with others and help resolve conflicts in the workplace quickly. This affects productivity, morale, and job satisfaction.

9. Professional Development Goals

Increasing personal abilities, expertise, or experience to stay relevant in a competitive economic market. This improves employee retention and engagement — and reduces turnover.

10. Virtual Communication Goals

Learning to adapt to an evolving work environment by strengthening communication skills. This includes elevating skills with technologically advanced communication channels, collaborative spaces, remote and hybrid workspaces, and working from anywhere.


Performance Goals vs. Development Goals

Performance goals are different from development goals.

Goals of performance focus on an employee’s daily priorities for accomplishing specific duties while supporting overall company goals.

A sample goal for employees would be to implement a new process for the team, such as video conferencing. The team member would choose the product, determine the steps required to make the conferencing process ready for use, and make a deadline for launch.

Goals of development focus on an employee’s aspirations for personal growth, elevated performance through learning, and advancement in their career.

A sample goal for employees would be to improve a skill, such as public speaking. The team member would participate in skill-based training, such as public speaking lessons. They would determine a timeline and a way to measure performance, such as getting feedback on their speeches after each class for six months.


How to Better Set, Align, and Discuss Meaningful Goals

90-Day Goals (we call them Rocks) are an effective tool for breaking down annual goals into employee performance goals, which are the priorities that need to get done each quarter for success.

Ninety's Rocks tool enables you to:

  • Assign the right 90-Day Goal or priority to the right person, so it’s easily completed.
  • Break Rocks down into Milestones, which are the different tasks that need to be completed before checking off the goal. Milestones can be assigned to anyone in the company as To-Dos within Ninety, which encourages collaboration among different teams to get things done.
  • Create a system of clear and visible accountability for all, so that every team member understands what their role is in accomplishing each plan.
  • Discuss measurable performance for 90-Day Goals and To-Dos in weekly team meetings, a consistent reminder of their existence and the accountable progress made.
  • Achieve your company’s long-term strategy through actionable business plans.


What are SMART Performance Goals?

The SMART model is a well-known and effective approach for writing employee performance goals. The SMART goals acronym is shorthand for the criteria used to write them: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.


SMART Employee Goal-Setting Tips

Leaders have used SMART goal-setting for the last 40 years as a way to develop clearly defined performance goals that empower their team members to work smarter, not harder.

Tip #1: Write SMART goals to describe:

  • What a team member works to achieve every day, given their job responsibilities.
  • The important results they are working to accomplish.
  • Agreed-upon performance levels for each team member and how performance is measured.
  • The specific time frame for achievement.
  • What professional development might look like for each person.

Tip #2: Set realistic SMART goals together with your employees. Working one-on-one with each team member, make goals SMART to get these benefits:

  • The answer to who is responsible for setting performance goals.
  • A straightforward way to get realistic goal details defined.
  • Easier for both you and your team members to understand.
  • Engaging for employees because they can focus their attention and resources on what’s most important for achievement.
  • Motivating teams because they’ll be more likely to accomplish priorities on their own and accelerate the company Vision.


How to Set SMART Employee Goals with 3 Examples

There’s no need to overcomplicate the process. Work one-on-one with your team members and encourage their contributions to develop a list of possible employee goals using the five steps for writing SMART goals.

1. Make It Specific

Write simple goals that clearly define what will be accomplished and how.

2. Make It Measurable

Clearly defining how you will measure specific goals can help your team members see what’s working, what’s not, and where to focus. Performance metrics help team members stay on track and accountable. When they know what they've achieved, it can motivate them to accomplish even more.

3. Make It Achievable

Specific, measurable goals are ambitious yet still energize team members. If the goal is unrealistic or out of reach, they may get frustrated or lose the motivation to improve. 

Here’s where established benchmarks for achievable goals can help. Break the goal down into manageable steps set at specific deadlines so they’re not overwhelmed by the end goal itself. 

Make sure your team member has the necessary skills and resources to achieve the goal, such as experience, training, and time in their schedule. Incorporate any limitations by including a developmental aspect to the goal.

4. Make It Relevant

Align each specific, measurable, and achievable goal with your company's main objectives. Once your team member understands why it’s important to the big-picture goals of the entire company, it becomes results-based and much more worthwhile to accomplish for them. If the proposed goal doesn’t seem relevant to the larger picture, it may not be the right goal at this point in time.

5. Make It Time-Bound

Setting a specific timeframe, deadline, or target date for meeting a SMART employee performance goal adds a certain urgency to get it done. Explaining why a deadline is important to you and the company is also a great motivator for your team members. 

The timeframe could be as short as one week or one month and as long as six months, one year, or five years, depending on the realistic achievements of this team member.


3 SMART Employee Performance Goal Examples

Increase daily sales calls by 20% by the end of the month.

  • Specific: Daily sales calls
  • Measurable: 20 percent increase
  • Achievable: Based on call volume, time frame, team goals, and employee’s level of experience
  • Relevant: Increased calls can improve the opportunity for a sale, contributing to individual and team success
  • Time-bound: End of the month

Lead the charge for producing a social media strategy for the next quarter.

  • Specific: Taking ownership of specific tasks for specific deliverables
  • Measurable: Deliver one documented strategy for social media
  • Achievable: Based on the time frame and employee’s level of experience
  • Relevant: Being accountable for the social media strategy means other team members can focus on their area of expertise
  • Time-bound: End of next quarter

Extend professional network by attending a conference this year.

  • Specific: Broadening network of professional contacts
  • Measurable: Registration to attend at least one conference
  • Achievable: Realistic time frame for attending events that don’t happen frequently
  • Relevant: Staying up to date with industry trends and meeting new contacts will improve professional influence
  • Time-bound: End of this year


Reward Employees Who Achieve Their Goals

When companies recognize and reward employees for achieving (or exceeding) their performance goals, research shows that 69% will work harder because they know their work is valued and appreciated. Eighty-three percent of them will be happier in their seats.

When a team member falls short of attaining a SMART performance goal, work closely with them to determine what went wrong. Rework the goal and encourage them to try again.


How to Keep Your Company Better Aligned and On Track

Setting clear employee performance goals that align with company objectives is a better way to keep your organization working together and heading in the same direction.

Whether you’re leading an in-person, remote, or hybrid team, connecting employee goals to business goals and using effective tools for measuring them will help you tackle these six common challenges you might face.

1. Maintaining Good Communication

Understanding how to communicate well with your employees is integral for you to work together on how to set employee performance goals.

Tech tools like video conferencing software, work communication platforms like Slack, and cloud-based services are helping leaders and teams stay connected and productive.

Ninety’s Meetings tool helps leaders run well-organized, efficient agendas that focus on priorities. Team members can stay on task and be accountable for solutions that create value.

2. Scheduling One-on-One Meetings

The purpose of a one-to-one meeting is to help employees feel valued and connected with you and the company. Scheduling a meeting with each of your team members may seem like a hassle, but it doesn't have to be. It’s an opportunity to connect on performance goals and give valuable two-way feedback.

One-on-Ones are one of the ways the Ninety platform can help you facilitate feedback sessions easily. You can integrate your conversations and priorities into a team member’s 90-Day Goals, roles, metrics, and the company vision.

3. Forecasting Goals

Metrics make data work for you in attaining employee performance goals. You want to forecast goals weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Technology can make this easier and less time-consuming.

Ninety’s Goal Forecasting lets you forecast goals for an entire year at any interval: weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. With the Scorecard, you can calculate weekly metrics in real-time to show changes month over month and quarter over quarter.

4. Keeping Track of Performance

You need to keep track of the work that’s accomplished and the deadlines met while clarifying expectations and giving people room to grow. Tracking projects and tasks are much easier when using digital tools.

Ninety's Scorecard, Goals, To-Dos, and Issues are digital tools that help you efficiently organize projects, evaluate roadblocks much faster, visualize improvements, and keep track of individual performance goals.

5. Incorporating Company Culture into Goals

When company culture is shaped intentionally, it will make a difference in how employees achieve their goals while focusing on the bigger picture.

The Vision planning tool in Ninety enables you to have a shared vision of the future that’s clear and easy to buy into company-wide. Employees can keep detailed one- and three-year goals in mind while keeping track of immediate tasks and priorities. Teams can use the Vision archive for inspiration in developing new shared visions or keep team-specific Visions private.

6. Building Trust

Trust among leaders and teams is essential for effective writing, setting, and achieving performance goals. You build trust by being transparent about elements of a good work environment such as working hours, performance expectations, compensation, the status of projects, keeping people accountable, and more.

The Responsibilities Chart helps you create a clear way for your team members to see the details of roles and responsibilities and understand how their performance is measured. This can help everyone communicate effectively, collaborate harmoniously, and build trust.


Create Your Employee Performance Goals on Ninety

Now that you’ve reviewed sample goals for employees and learned about setting them for better performance, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice:

Create your employee performance goals on Ninety now.

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