Performance goals are usually productivity goals for employees to follow in order to boost a company’s output or performance. Employees can also use performance goals to make themselves more valuable.
It’s common for business owners or managers to set performance goals for employees, or for employees to set their own. In either case, setting performance goals is a great way to improve the function of a business or keep it on track.
In this article, we aim to introduce you to some common performance goal examples, as well as why each one is a good choice.
To take the initiative means to do just a little more than what you’re required to do. To you, it might mean to take just a little longer on a project from your boss to make sure you did a good job. It could also mean stepping up to take responsibility for something when no one else around you will.
Managers should always urge employees to take the initiative since employees who take the initiative when problems come up are much more valuable. If you as an employee want to increase your value, working on taking the initiative is a great way to do this. Check out the list we’ve provided below for some great ways to start doing this.
- Be alert for ways to do things better, faster, or more effectively.
- Be the first to follow new rules and regulations.
- Actively look for ways to save money for the business.
- Always help coworkers and teammates who need assistance.
- Don’t hesitate to volunteer for hard duties and projects.
- Think ahead for setbacks and obstacles, and do what you can to avoid or mitigate them.
- Always be prepared with research and assignments.
- Deal with setbacks immediately.
It’s not hard to start taking the initiative, and there are many ways to do it, but you might feel reluctant to do so for a variety of reasons. For one, we’re all wary of taking on more than we can handle at work. Never take on too much that you burn yourself out or otherwise endanger your health; as helpful as it is to take the initiative, doing it so much that you put yourself out of commission is counterproductive.
Every boss wants their employees to be punctual when it comes to work matters. The importance or strictness can vary by profession, but any reliable employee should make it a goal of theirs to always be punctual. When you make an aim to be punctual, you come off as professional, dependable, and consistent, all admirable traits in an employee.
While hitting deadlines and showing up to work on time is very important, punctuality also shows that you have respect for your colleagues’ time. Depending on your profession, if you show up late, you can impact the work of everyone around you, too, especially if they depend on your help or input. Even if you don’t have many deadlines to work around, your coworkers and boss will notice if you’re late consistently.
A consistently punctual worker will score more points with their boss than someone who’s often late, or even someone who’s uncommonly late. Accidents happen, of course, but barring unforeseen circumstances, you should always plan to be on-time and ready for work.
Also, just as a punctual person is more likely to be promoted than someone who’s sometimes late, a punctual person is also less likely to be fired. If your boss had to choose between two nearly-identical workers, they would inevitably choose the worker who shows up on time and meets deadlines more often. This is especially important in tough or unreliable job markets where your position may always be in jeopardy.
Especially in jobs where employees make direct contact with clients or customers, attitude is critical. However, attitude can affect the way that employees interact with each other, too, and the way they feel toward their work. Employees should always try to keep a good attitude at work. Even a fair attitude is better than a bad one.
An employee’s attitude originates in the mind. Even if they try to put on a happy face for coworkers or customers, their body language, tone of voice, and expressions can betray their true feelings. A truly good attitude borne from the inside makes more of a difference than they might think.
Cultivating an excellent attitude at work can have some significant benefits, including the following:
- Makes a happier, more positive environment
- Helps reduce stress
- Increases productivity
- Less sick days and more energy
- Improves teamwork
- Better decision-making
- Better relationships between employees
The potential of a given employee goes down as their attitude goes down, and vice versa. In team environments, the same is true on an exponential scale; employees with good temperaments can improve those around them, while those with bad attitudes can bring other employees down.
Have you ever walked into a business or establishment that just doesn’t feel welcoming? This feeling can come from bad attitudes. When an employee thinks badly of their job, coworkers, or customers, that attitude is reflected in the establishment itself.
Communication skills are an essential cog in the machinery of any business. Really, communication is the basis of almost everything we do as people. In our technology-driven age, we communicate with others more easily and frequently than we ever have before.
However, good communication skills aren’t always a given. Even an employee with top-notch communication skills can fail to do so when they’re cranky or stressed. Sometimes, communication between coworkers breaks down when workplace arguments happen. Bad communication from clients to employees can leave them feeling stressed and angry.
However, there’s a reason why communication skills are one of the most sought-after skills in new hires today. While personal and leadership communication skills can be learned, they’re one of the most essential skills for any collaborative working environment, and even non-collaborative ones can benefit from it. Without good communication, the entire chain of command in a workplace breaks down.
In a workplace, excellent communication should always be kept up, even when teammates are missing or employees are stressed. Communicate goals, issues, and progress to relevant parties at all times. When communication breaks down, operations become less efficient, morale can go down, and productivity can suffer. In addition, poor communication between employees can affect customers’ experiences, as well.
Healthy communication habits, both in the workplace and outside situations, can help mitigate internal conflict and resolve fights. When employees know how to communicate in a calm, effective manner, they can talk out issues and setbacks instead of fighting about them and causing more problems!
When skills and prior knowledge fail in the workplace, creativity reigns supreme. Whenever possible, it’s important for employees to exercise their creativity and find new solutions to problems. However, a big part of this involves making employees feel comfortable using this creativity. Often, employees can feel like venturing outside rules and regulations is not allowed.
As a result, it’s crucial for upper management to cultivate a workplace that encourages employees to show their creativity. Employees need to know that they have the freedom to explore creative solutions to problems and come up with new ideas. We’ve included some methods to help build creativity in your workplace below.
- Reward creativity when employees show it. It just takes one time. Once other employees see that it’s okay, even good, they’ll start to do the same thing.
- Hire the right people. This doesn’t necessarily mean just to hire creative people. It means to hire a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds and places to encourage diversity of thought.
- Use the “Yes, and…” approach. Shutting down a creative idea with a flat “no” can discourage employees from suggesting such an idea again. Instead, tell them that they’re on the right track, but the idea needs to incorporate such-and-such before it can work.
- Try flexible scheduling. Allowing responsible employees to sometimes work from home or work odd hours can have interesting effects on office productivity. For someone who doesn’t do well with the traditional nine-to-five, this can be a great creativity booster, but it can also distract other employees. Use caution and good judgment.
- Give employees recharge time. Creativity is not something that’s able to be sustained indefinitely. Sometimes, our creative minds just need time to rest. Often, doing so results in better ideas anyway!
In any workplace that works closely with customers, the customer service experience is always a high priority. When the customer experience is bad, the business, predictably, suffers. Every business should aim to fine-tune their customer experience as much as possible, especially as the business itself grows and changes.
Employees are a massive part of the customer experience. More often than not, low-end employees spend more time with customers than upper-level employees do. That’s why it’s so crucial for upper levels to direct proper customer service practices in the levels below.
Any good business can sell something to someone once. However, if their customer service is bad, they may not be able to retain those customers and keep them coming back. Below we’ve listed several good ways to practice excellent customer service in your business.
- When you lose a customer, follow up and find out why, then do your best to address the issue
- Make sure phones get answered; don’t leave callers on hold for long periods of time, and make sure to answer their questions in an efficient, timely manner
- Don’t make promises to customers that you can’t keep
- Listen to what the customer wants and needs instead of trying to talk them into a product or deal
- Read all complaints that arise about the business, and work to address all that you can
- Offer help, sales, and discounts to customers even when they don’t result in an immediate profit
- Make sure your staff are well-trained in handling customers’ needs
We touched on this a bit earlier under Creativity, but having many different schools of thought and backgrounds working together in a business will help make it more successful. Besides promoting creativity, promoting each team member’s unique experience helps to create a well-rounded group of individuals.
Diversity in the workplace doesn’t have to be cultural. For example, two individuals of the same race who grew up in different places may bring vastly different things to the table. The perfect team of employees should be evaluated based on what each member excels at or lacks.
In our day and age, diversity is widely regarded as a good thing, but it wasn’t always that way. With cultural inclusion being a bit of a sore spot in recent years, racial diversity has become commonplace, but prejudices still exist around the world. In American workplaces, an environment that’s inclusive and accepting is shown to be excellent for morale and promotion of thought diversity.
Diverse working environments are also great for conflict resolution. When you have many people with different backgrounds working to resolve something, at least one person is likely to have experience with the type of conflict resolution that could work best. The more bases you cover to begin with, the more likely you are to be prepared for anything later on.
Of course, planning ahead is an integral part of making any business successful and reliable. If you can’t plan for the supplies, employees, funding, or time that you need to accomplish something, it’s very likely to fail. Employees should aim to always plan ahead for such things, of course, just as upper-level management should.
Proper planning deeply affects the working potential of all employees, and thus, the business itself. An employee that plans out their day, for example, is more likely to stay on track and get what they need to do done than an employee who does not. Starting something without a plan is like taking a road trip without a map.
Planning, in essence, amounts to organization for employees. An employee who’s planned ahead can request necessary materials and resources, alert or brief team members, and report problems ahead of time than an unorganized employee would not be prepared for. All employees should aim to plan ahead whenever possible, regardless of whether they plan diligently on paper or just in their heads.
It may sometimes feel like taking the time to plan ahead is a waste of energy and resources, but it can actually save you time and effort in the long run, especially if you run into issues somewhere along the way. If you take a little extra time to plan beforehand, you might be able to anticipate these issues and avoid them altogether or reduce their impact.
Listening goes hand-in-hand with communication and should be just as high of a priority. In addition to listening diligently at staff meetings and such, employees need to be able to listen closely to what employees want and need as a part of good customer service.
Listening comes in two types: active listening and passive listening. During passive listening, you absorb what the speaker is saying to you, but you may be doing other things at the same time, or you might be uninterested in the conversation. In active listening, you’re playing an active role in the discussion, all while asking questions, offering your opinion, and the like. Active listening is what we’ll be talking about here.
Active listening has many advantages, and both employees and employers should aim to take advantage of them as much as possible. We’ve listed some of them below.
- If you’re known as a good listener, employees and customers will come to you with complaints, worries, and thoughts that could be beneficial for you to know.
- Listening is key to building trust. If an employee is a notoriously bad listener, their coworkers might not trust them to do their part on a group project, for example.
- Listening plays a significant role in maintaining a good business reputation. If you refuse to listen to your employees and customers, you will eventually make a name for the business as such.
- When customers or employees feel misunderstood or unfairly treated, it can lead to altercations or fights. Settling down and taking the time to listen can go a long way towards preventing these.
- When employees and customers feel listened to, they feel valued. This increases morale and productivity.
While not everyone’s a natural-born leader, every employee should have the goal of being able to lead when necessary. The chances are that they will have to take the lead at some point, and being prepared for that moment is part of performing well as an employee.
When a good leader does their job, the results speak for themselves. Even if a good leader fails at doing what they set out to do, the time and effort they put in will still be apparent. This sort of leadership inspires all those who are dependent on the leader and impresses those who watch over the leader. A good leader boosts morale, inspires confidence, and raises productivity.
What can the everyday employee do to be a good leader? Besides taking leadership courses and studying up, you can try the following things:
- Emulate the best leaders you’ve worked under in the past. Take the things that they did well and incorporate them into your routine.
- Communicate your expectations, goals, worries, and thoughts clearly and effectively.
- Lead by example. If you want your employees to start doing something, start doing it yourself!
- Recognize the achievements of those you lead. Doing so will inspire others to work hard for that same praise.
All upper-level and lower-level employees should do their best to stay motivated. When an employee is motivated and productive, they do their best, most efficient work. When motivation runs low is when the times get tough. How can we keep motivated when it feels like we’re fresh out of it?
One tried-and-true method involves white-knuckling it out. Sometimes, when motivation is nowhere to be found, discipline is what comes into play to keep us in line. If you’re determined to do the best job that you can, you can get it done even when it doesn’t feel possible.
Create goal lists or to-do lists to tie in with the above. Keeping a list of steps that will take you where you need to go gives you a good judgment of how close you are to the end. When times get really tough, simply knowing that you’ve almost reached the light at the end of the tunnel can be the inspiration you need.
However, sometimes all you need to get your motivation back is a little break. Taking a step back, getting some fresh air, and getting whatever you’re focusing on out of your face can do wonders for motivation and inspiration. Go take a walk, get a coffee, take your lunch break, or even take a trip to the bathroom if you need a minute or two to recharge.
Don’t be afraid to focus on non-work things, either. Just don’t do it at work! It may be tempting to do work-related things day and night, but little distractions from work really are necessary to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape. Regular exercise, in particular, is a great way to unwind, decompress, and come back to work refreshed.
Every employee should have the fundamental goal of improving their productivity, or at least getting as much out of their time as they can. However, with all of the distractions at our fingertips in our age of technology, it’s easier than ever to get distracted. Distraction is the enemy of productivity. So, how can we keep it at bay and take our productivity higher?
One key to a productive mind is a healthy body. Getting your full eight hours of sleep will reward you with better concentration. Eating healthy foods and snacks will help you stay alert and awake during the day. Getting your recommended exercise every work will keep your body functioning as it should. Exercise is especially important if you sit at a desk all day!
If you want to stay distraction-free while you’re working, you should distance yourself from any uses of the internet that you don’t specifically need to get work done. The internet itself is a beautiful thing, but it can function as an endless time-waster if it’s not treated correctly. Social media websites are especially significant problem-causers.
Resist the urge to open up Facebook or Twitter while you’re on the job. Better yet, turn your phone off entirely or silence notifications altogether. Even if you think your self-control is good, you might be surprised by how much time you lose to social media. Today, people spend an average of more than two hours on social media every day. It’s likely that not all of that is done at work, but it’s still a substantial productivity loss.
Employers and employees alike should be experienced in setting SMART goals. The SMART system is a goal-setting standard that helps you set better, more achievable goals by defining how you should set and treat them. Whenever possible, the SMART system should be applied to performance goals (or even regular goals). It works as follows:
- Specific: narrow down your goal so it only refers to one thing. Don’t make multi-faceted goals, as these will just split up your efforts.
- Measurable: your goal should feature some property of measurement, if possible. For example, you should aim to earn a certain amount of money or work a certain number of hours, instead of generalizing “more money” or “more hours.”
- Attainable: your goals should always be within the realm of what you feel you can achieve. While being ambitions is good and has its place, don’t burn yourself out, either.
- Relevant: your goal should always align with your broader goals. In this case, your performance goals should always match up to the broader goals of the business.
- Time-Bound: the goal should always have a time frame to be completed in.
Honoring the SMART goal system helps employees to set better goals for themselves overall if they hit the marks listed above. Before you decide to honor and pursue a goal, you should always run it through the SMART checklist to make sure it ticks all the boxes.
Final Thoughts on Performance Goals
No matter how you set your performance goals, setting them at all means a lot. When an employee has performance goals of their own, whether they were assigned by a manager or self-developed, it shows that the employee is committed, motivated, and thinking ahead. It shows that they’re a capable employee.
If your employees need a little more help, setting some goals for them (or for yourself!) can be just the push they need to get moving in the right direction. Freedom to explore and express creativity is great, but employees need guidance, too. Finding the perfect medium between too much and too little direction, and, in turn, getting the most out of your employees’ performance, is a delicate line to walk for any employer, but we hope that this guide has made it seem a little easier.