How to set goals for your employees

How to set goals for your employees

The purpose of setting goals for employees is to get them focused on the results you need them to achieve to contribute to your business’s success.

Benefits of measurable goals

If you give your employees clear objectives recognize and reward them based on their outputs, they are more likely to prioritise activities that lead to results. You can pick up any performance problems early and address them by tracking the progress of each person compared to their goals. Goals also have a positive impact on motivation and job satisfaction because they give people a sense of purpose.

How to implement goals

The key steps for implementing goals for employees are:

1. Start with your business plan

Clarify the main purpose of each role in terms of its contribution to business success. See the examples below:

 Role  Main purpose
Sales Achieve sales targets
Accounting Provide timely and accurate financial information
Administration Support the smooth running of the business

2. Give people a say in setting goals

Work with your people to set realistic but challenging goals to achieve the purpose of their role. Most people are familiar with the SMART acronym for goal setting. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Providing the right level of challenge is key in creating motivation – goals should stretch people, while still being achievable. See the examples below:

Role  Goal
Sales Increase sales revenue by 5% over the previous financial year
Accounting Produce monthly accounts by the 4th working day of the following month
Administration Achieve average customer satisfaction ratings of at least 4/5 every quarter

3. Create a plan

Help people to create a plan to achieve their goals. Get them thinking about how they’ll achieve each goal and break it down into key steps, activity levels, milestones, and timeframes. There may be more than one way to achieve a particular result so let your people have a say in how they’ll achieve their goals so they can play to their strengths.

4. Measure results

Measure the actual results that people achieve and report on progress. Keep it simple so that the reporting process is quick and it’s obvious whether or not the goal has been achieved. If you have a system where people can track their own progress, that’s even better.

5. Provide feedback

Catch up with people regularly to review their progress and let them know how they're doing. They may need your support to solve problems or overcome obstacles.

6. Celebrate success

Recognise and reward people who produce results.

7. Review goals

Review goals periodically to make sure they’re still relevant and aligned to organizational goals and make adjustments if necessary.


Effective goal setting should achieve win/win outcomes for both employees and employers. Employees are clear about expectations, are supported to achieve goals and rewarded when they produce results. Employers have a process that links individual activity to business results, and lets them track progress and quickly identify and fix performance problems.

Posted: Friday 7 July 2023

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The contents of these articles are intended to be general advice and updates on employment related matters.  This information does not constitute specialist advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Clients should seek specialist advice regarding particular matters.