Performance Review Goals (Definition, Types, and Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 23, 2022 | Published October 18, 2021

Updated October 23, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Goal-setting is essential for motivating yourself to be an effective professional or employee. Beyond setting these goals, it's important you use them to measure your performance and progress. Understanding performance review goals can aid your professional development and career advancement. In this article, we discuss these goals, identify the types of performance goals, highlight how to set performance goals, and discuss the importance of setting goals for a performance review.

What are performance review goals?

Performance review goals are specific targets that individuals set for themselves to become better professionals. They also refer to targets managers or supervisors set for other employees to ensure they attain corporate goals. These goals are essential for motivating individuals to work and engage in professional development. They often involve different aspects of a person's professional life or different facets of work in an organization. For example, a manager can set performance goals concerning punctuality at work. Similarly, an individual can set a goal to develop two new skills by the year-end.

Types of performance goals

Here are some types of performance goals:

Education or training goals

Education and training are a vital part of professional development and career advancement. Often, professionals looking to attain higher positions require additional education or training to do so. For example, a marketing associate can secure a good job with a bachelor's degree but requires a master's degree to become a marketing manager. Beyond an advanced degree, education or training goals can also involve completing a certification program or attending a vocational school.

Career advancement goals

These are goals that relate to attaining higher levels within your career and are common among professionals as they impact other areas of their lives. For example, a professional who receives a promotion is also likely to get a salary increase and other workplace benefits. Setting career advancement goals is important to stay dedicated and identify activities worth your time and attention. Also, they're independent of your employer, which allows some freedom. For example, a marketing associate can explore becoming a marketing manager in another company.

Work projects

Work projects refer to long-term tasks you're responsible for at work. Professionals and their supervisors often set goals regarding the performance of these tasks. These goals can relate to the time of completion, quality of work, or uniqueness of ideas. By setting goals for your work project, you can structure your approach towards completing the project, leading to more motivation to work on it. For example, a project manager can set a goal to complete a project one month ahead of the expected delivery time.

Productivity goals

Productivity refers to how much quality work a person can complete within a specific period. In turn, productivity goals are targets relating to a professional's work efficiency. Supervisors can set productivity goals to encourage employees to meet a certain work-related target. For example, an insurance manager can set a goal of 30 subscriptions per agent within a month. Individuals also use productivity goals to motivate themselves to do more with their day.

Leadership goals

Professionals preparing for managerial or supervisory positions can set leadership goals for themselves. Leadership goals relate to the amount of leadership responsibility a person intends to take and the quality of leadership they plan to deliver. Setting these goals is important because leadership can be tasking and requires some prior planning. For example, a lawyer looking to become a partner can set a leadership goal to be the lead attorney on several cases.

Related: Leadership Goals (Definitions and Examples)

How to set performance goals

Here are some steps you can follow to set performance goals:

1. Set clear goals

The clarity of your goals impacts how effectively you can prepare to achieve them. When you know exactly your aim, you can structure your time and efforts to achieve it at the earliest. Clear goals also make it easier to determine the kind of resources that are essential for attaining them. To set clear goals, think of your overall purpose within your career and how to attain it.

Related: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

2. Include timelines for your goals

Attaching timelines to your goals helps to keep you motivated and accountable. When setting timelines, ensure they're specific and reasonable. You can set multiple deadlines for different stages of the goals for greater accountability. For supervisors, you can discuss flexible and strict timelines with other employees. This can help them structure their work more effectively if they have extracurricular concerns to handle. To stay on time, you can set multiple reminders for yourself or those you're supervising.

3. Develop an effective review system

An effective performance review system is essential for judging how well you've performed in achieving your goals. For an individual, a good performance review system is simple, judges every performance aspect, and is honest. For a supervisor, it's essential the performance review system is also objective, consistent, and relates to measurable metrics. To be effective with your review, ensure you note all relevant data relating to performance.

4. Align your goals with your career

A major characteristic of effective goal-setting is picking goals that are relevant to your career and overall development. When an individual sets relevant goals, they're more likely to dedicate themselves to them. For professionals, it's important to distinguish between relevance to your career and your employer. For example, a professional can learn skills to help them transition to a new career path. Nonetheless, it's better if your goals can serve both yourself and your employer.

5. Be realistic

Setting realistic goals is essential to avoid burnout and loss of morale. The first step to set practical goals is understanding your limits or the limits of the team. To do this, you can reflect on what you or your team members do best. Next, review previous performances to get a good idea of your work rate and style and use this information to develop practical goals. While realistic goals are important, ensure they're also challenging to stimulate development.

6. Reward yourself

Rewards are a great way to motivate yourself or your teammates to perform more impressively. Often, the goal itself is distant, and short-term rewards can help you focus more on the goal. The great thing about rewards is that they can be anything of value. Examples include gifts, coupons, office benefits, promotions, a nice snack, an extended break time, or a trip.

7. Consider an accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone who frequently checks on your progress with your goals. For individuals, this can be an effective way to ensure you stay committed to your goals. When selecting an accountability partner, it's essential you select someone you respect. This way, the fear of their disapproval can motivate you to be more effective with your tasks. You can set a convenient time with your accountability partner for periodic meetings where you discuss your progress, shortcomings, and issues.

8. Use productivity tools

Productivity tools are various software that help promote efficiency with work or personal tasks. These tools automate many routine processes and make it easier to focus on completing tasks. Examples include calendar tools, task managers, and note-takers. Generally, using productivity tools can make it easier to manage your schedule, remind yourself of pending tasks, take relevant notes, and perform routine activities like sending messages or emails.

Related: How To Achieve Your Goals in 6 Steps (With Benefits)

Importance of setting goals for a performance review

Here are some of the benefits of setting goals for a performance review:

It improves efficiency

Goal-setting usually comes with a clear action plan that simplifies work processes. Additionally, attaching timelines to goals can help motivate you to be more focused on your tasks. These combined advantages make goal-setting an effective method for improving efficiency both for individuals and teams.

Related: What Is an Employee Pay-for-Performance Compensation Plan?

It gives you direction

When you set a clear goal, it gives you a better idea of where you aim to be at the end of a particular period. This means you know what your responsibilities are at every point. This sense of direction improves productivity at work, as you're unlikely to waste time on irrelevant tasks. It also assists with decision-making, as it's easier to determine which decisions can aid your goal.

It helps you structure your work

After setting a goal, it's natural to design an action plan on how to attain it. Usually, these action plans include timelines, work schedules, and work processes. This gives your work a definite structure, which can help you complete them faster and more efficiently.

Related: 17 Performance Review Tips for Employees

It motivates you to do more

When you set clear goals and achieve them, you develop more confidence in yourself and your abilities. Additionally, you develop your skills and proficiency in various areas when attaining these goals. With more confidence and better skills, you're more likely to aim higher and achieve more.

It aids professional development

Most professionals set goals relating to performing work tasks or developing their competence. Regardless of which it is, goal-setting often helps employees develop experience, skills, and knowledge faster than those who don't set goals. This can translate to professional development and career advancement.

Related: What Is a Performance Improvement Plan? (With an Example)

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