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Creating performance goals in collaboration with your employees is an excellent way to motivate them, increase productivity, and up engagement rates ⁠— ultimately benefiting the company as a whole. And a detailed objectives and key results (OKRs) framework is a key piece to that puzzle. 

But wait: What are OKRs again? For a company to achieve its goals, those need to be broken down into bold, yet achievable objectives for each department, team, and individual — and with clear ownership.

Rather than spending hours trying to set perfectly curated performance goals and objectives — only for them to end up incomplete and obsolete — dive into this article. We’ll discuss criteria to set customized performance objectives and share our top eight employee performance goals examples. Let’s get started.

👀 Take the guesswork out of assigning performance objectives

Leapsome’s frameworks and tools help employers create and track high-impact performance objectives that boost productivity and align with your company’s mission.

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How to set performance objectives

Great performance objectives help employees feel connected with their company’s mission,  boost engagement rates, and communicate expectations effectively. Follow the criteria below to set them:

1. Collaborate with employees

Setting up objectives and key results is no easy task, but collaborating with employees will make the process a lot easier — and your results, more powerful. 

Whether you’re dealing with a departmental or individual conversation, an employee’s contribution to goal setting is invaluable. Collaboration lets employees discover how their actions contribute to their company’s long-term growth, increasing autonomy and ownership.

But collaboration on performance goal setting shouldn’t be limited to delegation. When employees have been actively engaged in establishing objectives, both team and individual goals have higher chances of being met. If you need help, our guide on setting team goals will walk you through the process.

2. Align your objectives with your company mission

It would be pretty ironic if you owned a startup that wanted to revolutionize the world of data but didn’t give employees a work environment suitable for creativity, innovation, and change.

If your company wants to promote open communication and a flat hierarchy, your top goals should be things like: 

  • For management roles — Become a people-centric leader
  • For teams — Take on regular collaboration initiatives 
  • For individuals — Level up communication skills

Ideally, each employee’s personal goals should focus on their own development, while team goals should be tied to the company’s overarching mission. For example, Leapsome’s mission is to make work more fulfilling for everyone. That determines what our company stands for and how we run it.

Image of a group of people discussing team goals
When team goals are aligned with the company’s mission, employees understand how their work helps achieve organizational goals

Employees also feel more motivated when they understand how they fit into the big picture. Leapsome’s Goals & OKRs module can help you align your company mission with individual performance objectives, promoting transparency and accountability throughout the organization.

3. Focus on growth

Some of your best talent is sitting there just waiting to excel. And if you don’t support their growth, they’ll move on and excel somewhere else. 

Performance objectives don’t only benefit the business: they should help employees grow within their organizations — enriching the company itself. 

Growth should be the primary focus of any performance objective, especially when job searchers rank career growth opportunities as one of their top criteria when looking for a new position. That statistic shows that you risk losing your best talent to competitors if you don’t focus on employee development. 

But you must equip your people with the right skill sets to help them grow. And a career progression framework is perfect for that: it allows you to map out the skills and qualities your employees need to progress in their roles.

Screenshot of Leapsome’s development framework
Leapsome’s development framework helps define company-wide or team-specific skills to measure and track employee performance over time

4. Make your performance objectives SMART

SMART performance goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. Let’s look at an example of SMART goals in action:

❌ Increase productivity [vague & not measurable]
🚀 Increase productivity by 12% by the end of January [SMART goal]

By adding a timeline and percentage, the first statement becomes a SMART goal.

5. Build cascading goals

Let’s consider another goal-oriented example. A C-level team is pushing to increase revenue by 10% over the upcoming quarter. But what does that mean for each team and individual at the company? Would simply increasing everyone’s output (and workload) by 10% (e.g., HR hiring 10% more people) help achieve that? Probably not.

This imaginary C-level team needs to work on cascading goals to get where they want to be.

Developing cascading goals is the process of structuring goals and promoting alignment at all levels in the organization. With cascading goals, plans at the leadership level trickle down and shape the objectives of all other company employees. When that happens, you get measurable and attainable individual goals that align with the company’s mission.

Screenshot of Leapsome's goal tree showcasing cascading OKRs
Cascading goals create alignment and boost engagement

Brief overview: 8 performance objectives examples

Goal setting isn’t a create-and-forget exercise. Performance objectives are designed to motivate employees to do better and help managers and companies invest in their growth. Setting and measuring employee performance goals is a key tactic to increase team efficiency, help companies grow, and encourage employees to prosper in their careers. 

Here are our top eight performance objective examples:

  1. Collaboration — Employees offering their support to colleagues to help increase efficiency
  2. Professional development — Employees upskilling and furthering their careers within the company
  3. Self-management — Follows the “manager of me” concept in which employees are their own primary managers
  4. Soft skills — Determine how employees communicate and collaborate with other colleagues
  5. People management — Teaches employees how to motivate others, make themselves heard, and be better team players
  6. Problem-solving — Encourages employees to resolve issues that come up both individually and with their team
  7. Creativity & innovation — Prompts employees to be creative in their solutions and encourages participation
  8. Communication — Enables employees to effectively communicate tasks, procedures, and deadlines
👉 The eight objective examples above need to be customized according to your company’s requirements and the skills individual employees lack.

Examples of measurable goals & objectives for employees

Find out why each of the above performance objective examples is important, alongside some tips on implementing it within your organization:

1. Collaboration goals

Collaboration is essential for all teams and departments and directly impacts employee motivation, productivity, and job satisfaction.
With collaboration and teamwork, employees also become more innovative and better problem solvers.

But since collaboration isn’t an easily measurable performance objective, we suggest assigning employees collaborative tasks and measuring success based on communication, legibility, and effective collaboration.

💡 Example of a collaboration objective

If the collaboration between your sales and marketing teams is limited and inefficient, suggest specific ways they could work together, like: 

• Exchanging weekly reports
• Marketing and sales managers sitting in on at least three cross-departmental meetings each month
• Collaborating on a specific upcoming project or internal initiative

2. Professional development goals

A striking 87% of millennials (the largest generation in the workforce) rate learning and development opportunities as important to them at work. As an employer, that’s great news; after all, your people want to do their jobs well and grow — all they need from you is a helping hand.

Setting up professional development goals and ensuring employees follow through on them ensures they know you’re invested in their future. This ups engagement, retention, and productivity, which is a true win-win situation.

💡 Example of a professional development objective

Imagine your new social media marketing hire mentioned they’d like to learn more about performance marketing. 

A great professional development goal would be encouraging your new hire to choose a course they’re interested in — or perhaps you already have a learning path available that caters to that development need.
User interface of Leapsome’s Learn module for employee learning and development
Leapsome’s learning & onboarding tool offers an overview of employee progress with detailed path dashboards

3. Self-management goals

Self-management can include anything from employees taking ownership of a project to adapting to changes at work and managing deadlines without getting sidetracked by distractions. By practicing self-management skills, employees consistently show up ready to give their best effort and take on the day.

Self-management can help boost productivity, improve performance, and achieve professional and personal goals. For managers, it also means not micromanaging — and instead, letting employees flourish. Self-management means developing self-awareness and helping employees feel successful in their roles.

💡 Example of a self-management objective

Employees who struggle with deadlines but generally work efficiently may have issues with time management.

A great self-management goal could be learning how to prioritize.

4. Soft skills goals 

Generally speaking, no one wants to work with an unempathetic person who doesn’t communicate with team members.
Fortunately, soft skills can often be learned. 

Goal setting for soft skills should ensure that employees invest time and effort to optimize how they relate to and communicate with their colleagues.

💡 Example of a soft skills objective

Consider asking your employees to put together individualized, three-month action plans that can help them become better communicators. 

As an example, you may manage an employee that excels at working autonomously but struggles to work just as effectively in a team. By keeping track of their own learning progress throughout their journey, they can learn to identify their shortcomings and work on them.

5. People management goals 

Gone are the days when people management was a skill necessary only for leadership. Now, it goes beyond managerial tasks and also encompasses fruitful collaboration, the ability to motivate peers, and communication across teams. 

Setting goals for better people management means encouraging all employees to be open to receiving and giving constructive feedback and giving credit when it’s due. 

💡 Example of a people management objective

Encourage your employee to head one or more projects each quarter.

6. Problem-solving goals 

Problem-solving is a skill that’s as useful when a crisis strikes as it is in day-to-day life. A good problem solver is an analytical thinker and creative doer who will save their company time and money in the long run.

Image depicting employees gathered in a boardroom strategizing and problem solving.
Problem-solving skills help employees perform at work better and more autonomously

💡 Example of a problem-solving objective

Ask each member of the finance team to come up with three problems they face in their day-to-day work and how to overcome them in a detailed plan. Their specific goal could be to develop an actionable plan in Q3 and implement it by the end of Q4.

7. Creativity & innovation goals 

Companies that nurture innovation and creativity in-house are some of the most successful. But when people hear the word creative, their minds often jump to art; sure, that’s one type of creativity, but there are lots more. 

Creativity can be a marketing team figuring out new ways to A/B test emails or a product manager effectively helping different teams communicate. Innovation at work can be as simple as adopting a more efficient way to run meetings. Giving employees those kinds of opportunities in the workplace helps them feel valued and appreciated. 

💡 Example of a creativity and innovation objective

If your website isn’t performing as well as you’d like, you could ask the marketing team to propose different versions of the homepage’s copy. By challenging your employees to come up with multiple solutions instead of the one best solution, you’re encouraging them to think outside the box and develop creative thinking skills.

8. Communication goals

Actively working towards better communication improves productivity and relationships at work. The 7 Cs of communication is a great framework for setting clear goals and improving communication skills for teams and individuals. 

Effective communication at work looks like: 

  • Clear communication without ambiguity
  • Good relationships between individuals, teams, and departments
  • Clear deadlines
  • Effectively communicated tasks 
  • Positive changes with reinforcement 
  • Knowledge shared  across teams
💡 Example of a communication objective

Encouraging employees to take initiative in team meetings and prompt colleagues to speak up is a great communication performance objective.

To take things a step further, Leapsome’s engagement surveys are an excellent tool for employees to share their opinions anonymously and communicate easily.
Screenshot of engagement survey results in Leapsome’s people enablement platform
Leapsome allows users to collect meaningful employee feedback with their powerful survey tool

Better objective setting for a stronger team

When teams set objectives without foresight, the results are bound to be fruitful only in the short term. That’s why tracking progress and following through is just as important as how you establish performance objectives.

Objectives that align with company goals and focus on growth create an environment where employees feel valued. Ultimately, that means a stronger team and a rapidly growing company.

🧐 Take the guesswork out of assigning performance objectives

Leapsome’s frameworks and tools help employers create and track high-impact performance objectives that boost productivity and align with your company’s mission.

Start improving performance now
Written By

Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.

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