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9 examples of performance review goals

Performance reviews are crucial for employee development and organizational success, offering benefits for both parties. Learn about performance review goals and how to implement them.

In the dynamic and competitive landscape of today's business world, organizations are constantly seeking ways to enhance their performance and achieve their strategic objectives.

Performance evaluations, often referred to as performance reviews or appraisals, are essential in providing a structured framework for assessing employee performance, identifying areas for improvement and fostering a culture of continuous growth and development.

However, the frequency and execution of performance reviews have dropped within the last few years. Forty-nine percent of companies in the U.S. conducted annual performance reviews in 2023, which is down from 82% in 2016, according to the job recruitment website Zippia. Some companies are replacing annual reviews with frequent, informal check-ins between managers and employees. Other companies embrace frequent feedback and conduct quarterly, monthly or even weekly review sessions.

Even as the culture around performance reviews changes, frequent, high-quality and actionable feedback is essential for employees. Employees agree that performance reviews should be achievement-oriented, fair, accurate and developmental, according to a Gallup study. Implementing regular feedback can decrease turnover rates by up to 15% when compared with employees who don't receive feedback.

By providing employees with clear expectations, constructive feedback and opportunities for growth, frequent performance evaluations foster a motivated and engaged workforce.

What are performance evaluations?

Performance evaluations are formal assessments of an employee's work in a given period. They are typically conducted by an employee's manager and are used to measure an employee's performance against their job responsibilities. Performance evaluations can be used to identify areas where an employee is excelling and areas where they need improvement. They can also be used to set goals for future performance and to provide feedback to the employee.

There are several different types of performance evaluations, but they can include the following steps:

  • Setting goals. The manager and employee will work together to set goals for the employee's performance. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). New goals may be based on feedback on previous goals.
  • Monitoring progress. The manager will monitor the employee's progress toward their goals throughout the evaluation period. This may involve regular check-ins, progress reports or other forms of feedback.
  • Providing feedback. At the end of the evaluation period, the manager will provide feedback to the employee on their performance. This feedback should be specific, actionable and delivered in a constructive manner.

Why are performance goals important?

Performance evaluations can be a valuable tool for improving employee engagement and performance. However, they are only effective if they are conducted in a fair and consistent manner. Managers should be trained in how to conduct performance evaluations effectively and should be held accountable for providing accurate and constructive feedback.

Performance goals are beneficial to employees for the following reasons:

  • Focus efforts and improve performance. When employees have clear goals, they are better able to focus their efforts on the most important tasks and activities. This can lead to improved performance and outcomes.
  • Increase motivation and engagement. Goals can be a powerful motivator, as they provide employees with a sense of direction and purpose. When employees are motivated, they are more likely to be engaged in their work and put forth their best effort.
  • Develop skills and knowledge. By setting goals that require employees to learn new skills or knowledge, companies can help their employees develop their professional skills and advance their careers.
  • Track progress and make adjustments. Goals provide employees with a way to track their progress and adjust as needed. Continuous performance management can help them to stay on track and achieve their goals.
  • Feel more valued and appreciated. When employees set goals and receive the support they need to achieve them, they feel more valued and appreciated by their employer. This can lead to increased job satisfaction.

In addition to benefitting employees, performance goals can benefit companies in the following ways:

  • Improving communication and alignment. Goals can help improve communication and alignment between employees and managers. When everyone is working toward the same goals, it is easier to stay on track and achieve organizational objectives.
  • Increasing productivity and efficiency. By focusing employees on the most important tasks, goals can help to increase productivity and efficiency.
  • Making better decisions about resource allocation. Goals can help companies make better decisions about how to allocate resources, such as training and development.
  • Identifying and developing talent. Goals can help companies identify and develop talent by providing employees with opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Improving employee experience, morale and retention. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they have a better employee experience and are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and stay with the company.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are a popular goal-setting framework that help individuals and organizations achieve their objectives. The acronym SMART stands for the following:

  • Specific. The goal should be well-defined and have a clear objective.
  • Measurable. The goal should be quantifiable so that progress can be tracked.
  • Achievable. The goal should be challenging but realistic, considering the available resources and time constraints.
  • Relevant. The goal should be aligned with the overall goals of the individual or organization.
  • Time-bound. The goal should have a specific deadline to create a sense of urgency and accountability.

By following the SMART framework, individuals and organizations can increase their chances of achieving their goals. Here are some examples of SMART goals:

  • Increase website traffic by 20% in the next six months.
  • Reduce customer support response time to 24 hours by the end of the year.
  • Improve employee satisfaction ratings by 10% by the end of the next quarter.
  • Launch a new product line within the next 12 months.
  • Save 10% on operating costs by the end of the next fiscal year.

Common performance review goals

There are thousands of potential performance review goals that employees can use, some of which are generic and some of which are more specific. Following are nine examples.

1. Improve communication skills

Effective communication is essential for success in any workplace. Employees with strong communication skills can clearly articulate their ideas, build relationships with colleagues and resolve conflicts effectively.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who want to improve their ability to communicate with managers, colleagues and clients.
  • Employees who want to become more effective presenters or public speakers.

SMART goal examples:

  • Increase the number of positive feedback comments received from colleagues on communication skills by 15% by the end of the next performance review cycle.
  • Deliver two successful presentations to team members on new product updates by the end of the next quarter.
  • Achieve a score of 85% or higher on a communication skills assessment by the end of the next six months.

2. Enhance problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are important for identifying and resolving issues in the workplace. Employees with strong problem-solving skills can analyze problems effectively, generate creative solutions and implement solutions successfully.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who want to improve their ability to identify and resolve complex problems.
  • Employees who want to become more effective decision-makers.
  • Employees who want to take on more responsibility and leadership roles.

SMART goal examples:

  • Reduce the average time to resolve customer support tickets by 10% by the end of the next quarter.
  • Develop and implement a new process for improving workflow efficiency within the next six months.
  • Successfully resolve three critical business issues by the end of the next performance review cycle.

3. Increase productivity and efficiency

Employee productivity and efficiency are essential for meeting deadlines and achieving organizational goals. Employees who are productive and efficient can manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks and complete work to a high standard.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who want to improve their ability to manage their time and workload.
  • Employees who want to increase their output without sacrificing quality.
  • Employees who want to contribute more significantly to organizational goals.

SMART goal examples:

  • Complete all assigned tasks on time or ahead of schedule for the next three consecutive performance review cycles.
  • Reduce the average time spent on completing routine tasks by 15% within the next six months.
  • Achieve a consistently high level of productivity, as measured by key performance indicators, for the next performance review cycle.

4. Develop technical skills

Technical skills help in performing specific job duties and keeping up with industry advancements. Employees with strong technical skills can operate equipment effectively, troubleshoot technical issues and learn new technologies quickly.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who want to improve their proficiency in specific software applications or programming languages.
  • Employees who want to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and technologies.
  • Employees who want to expand their career opportunities by gaining new technical skills.

SMART goal examples:

  • Achieve a score of 80% or higher on a certification exam for a relevant technical skill within the next six months.
  • Successfully complete two online courses on new technical topics by the end of the next quarter.
  • Demonstrate expertise in a new technical skill by implementing a project that uses the skill by the end of the next performance review cycle.

5. Enhance customer service skills

Good customer service skills help employees build positive relationships with customers and ensure their satisfaction. Employees with strong customer service skills can communicate effectively with customers, resolve customer issues promptly and go the extra mile to exceed customer expectations.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who interact directly with customers on a regular basis.
  • Employees who want to improve their customer satisfaction ratings.
  • Employees who want to build a reputation for providing exceptional customer service.

SMART goal examples:

  • Achieve a customer satisfaction rating of 90% or higher for the next three consecutive performance review cycles.
  • Handle customer complaints in a professional and empathetic manner, resulting in a positive resolution in 95% of cases by the end of the next quarter.
  • Implement two new customer service initiatives that result in improved customer satisfaction ratings by the end of the next performance review cycle.

6. Develop leadership skills

Effective leadership is essential for inspiring and motivating teams, achieving organizational goals and fostering a positive work environment. Employees with strong leadership skills can set clear expectations, delegate tasks effectively and provide constructive feedback.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who are aspiring to leadership roles or want to enhance their leadership abilities.
  • Employees who want to take on more responsibility and influence within their teams.
  • Employees who want to contribute to a more positive and productive work environment.

SMART goal examples:

  • Increase employee engagement scores by 10% by the end of the next performance review cycle.
  • Successfully mentor and develop two team members into leadership positions within the next six months.
  • Implement two new initiatives that will improve team collaboration and communication by the end of the next quarter.

7. Improve attendance

Regular and punctual attendance is important for maintaining productivity and demonstrating commitment to the organization. Employees with good attendance records are more reliable, have better focus and are less likely to miss important deadlines.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who have a history of absenteeism or tardiness.
  • Employees who want to improve their work ethic and reliability.
  • Employees who want to set a positive example for their colleagues.

SMART goal examples:

  • Achieve a 98% attendance rate for the next three consecutive performance review cycles.
  • Arrive on time for all meetings, appointments and work shifts for the next six months.
  • Reduce the number of absences due to illness or personal reasons by 50% by the end of the next quarter.

8. Enhance time management skills

Effective time management is important for completing tasks efficiently, meeting deadlines and achieving goals. Employees with strong time management skills can prioritize tasks, minimize distractions and avoid procrastination.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who struggle with procrastination or feeling overwhelmed by their workload.
  • Employees who want to improve their productivity and efficiency.
  • Employees who want to achieve a better work-life balance.

SMART goal examples:

  • Complete all assigned tasks on time or ahead of schedule for the next three consecutive performance review cycles.
  • Reduce the average time spent on emails and meetings by 20% within the next six months.
  • Develop and implement a daily time management plan that includes time for work, personal activities and relaxation by the end of the next quarter.

9. Develop budgeting and cost management skills

Effective budgeting is important for managing financial resources, controlling costs and achieving financial goals. Employees with strong budgeting skills can track expenses, identify savings opportunities and make informed financial decisions.

Who might want to set this goal:

  • Employees who manage departmental or project budgets.
  • Employees who want to improve their understanding of financial principles.
  • Employees who want to contribute to the financial health of the organization.

SMART goal examples:

  • Reduce departmental expenses by 5% by the end of the next fiscal year.
  • Develop and implement a budget tracking system for all departmental expenses within the next six months.
  • Achieve a 95% accuracy rate in budget forecasting for the next three consecutive fiscal years.

Kaitlin Herbert is a content writer and former managing editor for the Learning Content team. She writes definitions and features.

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