How to set goals for your employees

Goal setting is a simple yet very important task. Goals are probably exactly what you are thinking they are. Things you want your employees to achieve.

Settings goals for both yourself and your team are essential for proper success.

Goals need to be set at the outset in order to eliminate issues down the road. If you don't tell your employees what you expect, then how will they know what to do?

In order to prevent rework, failures, or unexpected behaviors, it is imperative to set clear and attainable goals.

You will need to be open and clear about the goals and your expectations. This will help the employees discern their contributions to the company and feel like their actions matter.

Setting specific and attainable goals will allow your employees to work on the items you deem to be the highest priority, which will help manage expectations and increase productivity and employee engagement.

Follow these guidelines to aid you in setting realistic and effective goals.

Pro Tips

  • Ensure all goals meet the "SMART" guidelines.
  • Review, revise and follow up on goals
  • Set goals with an understanding of the employees perspective. They need to buy in, so the goal has to have a positive impact for them. "What's in this for me?", "Why should I care about this goal?"
  • Link the goals to an understandable and relatable positive benefit for the company and team

Planning Phase


Development Goals

Performance Goals

The discussion

Step 1: Explain why the goals matter

Step 2: Explain your goals

Step 3: Be open and inquisitive

Step 4: Be clear about your expectations

Step 5: Be sure they understand the goals and are invested in achieving them

Set the goals and Approve the goals

Use the "SMART" guideline

The November 1981 issue of Management Review contained a paper by George T. Doran called There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives. It discussed the importance of objectives and the difficulty of setting them. We have modified these to help you better understand them and meet align with our performance management concepts. Ideally speaking, each corporate, department, and section objective should be:


Doran, G. T. (1981). "There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives". Management Review (AMA FORUM) 70 (11): 35–36.