Goal-Setting Guidance

As part of the University’s overall Performance Management Program for non-union employees and OPE staff, employees and their supervisors are encouraged to use these guidelines when creating goals for upcoming performance appraisals.

What are Smart Goals?

  • Statements crafted to foster clear and mutual understanding of your expected levels of performance and successful professional development
  • Goals that include both Performance Goals and Development Goals
  • Goals created using the SMART Method

Performance vs. Development Goals

Performance Goals are:

  • Related to job responsibilities and deliverables
  • Appropriate to the level of the position
  • Aligned to department and university goals

Development Goals are:

  • Learning-oriented
  • Support higher level performance in the employee’s current job and career advancement

The SMART Goal Method

  • Specific:  What will be accomplished? What actions will you take?
  • Measurable:  What data will measure the goal? (How much? How many? How well?)
  • Achievable:  Is the goal doable? Do you have the necessary skills and resources?
  • Relevant:  How does the goal align with broader goals? Why is the result important?
  • Time-Based:  What is the time frame for accomplishing the goal?

The SMART Goal Formula

Goal Statement What Makes It Smart
Do ___________________ Specific action taken
in order to  ___________________ to accomplish Measurable, Relevant, result
by  ___________________ within a certain timeframe
  Plus, make sure it's Achievable (realistic timeframe, sufficient resources, feasible target)

Developing Appropriate Performance Goals

Performance goals address all major job responsibilities.

  • Performance Goals should represent all day-to-day responsibilities or accountabilities.
  • A performance goal statement should be created for each, focusing on the end result, not the task.
  • Goals should be high-level enough to encompass the core outcomes for which the person is responsible, and specific and clear enough so that success can be easily measured.
  • Performance goals should include ongoing responsibilities plus any new projects, assignments, priorities, or initiatives for the current performance year.
  • As responsibilities change, goals should also change or be added to match. The time frames should show the goal’s relevance.

Create goals as broadly as possible. Each person should have at least 3 main goals.

  • Too many goals can indicate that the goals are scoped at too low a level and are focused more on tasks than on end results.
  • Look for where it is possible to combine several goals into a broader outcome statement or objective.
  • Be sure that all goals are achievable during the performance period.
  • Goals should focus attention and resources on what is most important to achieving the priorities.

The focus and level of the goals are driven by the person’s role and the way the position contributes to the end results.

  • Different employees may each have a piece of a broader goal, contributing in ways that are consistent with their areas of responsibility and expertise.
  • A supervisor may be ultimately responsible for an outcome to which their subordinates contribute.
  • The Specific action of a goal should reflect the person’s role and contribution.

Examples of Specific Action Verbs

Oversee Update Document
Coordinate Upgrade Process
Supervise Develop Provide
Manage Create Maintain
Plan Implement Reconcile
Support Evaluate Design
Direct Transition Produce
Administer Establish Facilitate

Common Measurements for SMART Goals 

  • Each goal must contain a measure or determine whether a goal has been achieved.
  • The measure is an indicator of what success for a particular goal will look like.
  • Supervisors and employees should work together to identify the most relevant and feasible data sources and collection methods.
  • The discussion about the desired end results (why the goal is important) and what the measurement options are (what success might look like) is an important and valuable part of goal setting.
  • Measurement methods can be both quantitative and qualitative.

Typical Data Types and Data Collection Methods

Data types data collection methods
Quality/accuracy rates  Review of system reporting
Amounts produced Report audits
Revenue generated or costs reduced Financial reports
Turn-around times, timeliness, time saved Data observation/collection
Customer satisfaction Feedback/surveys of customers and other stakeholders

Importance of Development Goals

  • Focus on learning and learning is key to high performance.
  • Help employees to renew, re-energize, stay current, and enhance their skill sets.
  • Help employees to develop a new set of skills and knowledge base to grow in a new area of responsibility.
  • Help to recruit, retain and motivate engaged and committed employees.

Importance of Action Plans

  • Action plans document the specific tasks or steps needed to accomplish each goal.
  • They help determine the resources and support needed to be successful and whether the end result and timeframe are achievable.
  • They can provide a roadmap for focus and feedback during employee/supervisor one-on-one sessions.

Examples of SMART Goals

Performance Goals

  • Provide high-quality customer service resulting in a 90% customer satisfaction rating from external customers on accuracy, timeliness and courtesy measures quarterly.
  • Reconcile the department financial reports by the 15th of every month with no increase in reconciliation errors.
  • Resolve 90% of complaints through a collaborative team process without the need for formal mediation, monthly.
  • Complete daily responsibilities resulting in the achievement of 85% of the program and individual performance targets by the end of the performance year.
  • Manage the department budget to stay within spending guidelines by the end of the fiscal year.
  • Coach and support direct reports resulting in the attainment of 85% of all performance plan goals, setting clear expectations, giving meaningful feedback and providing fair performance evaluations throughout the performance period.

Development Goals

  • By the end of December, develop and apply enhanced computer skills to create more detailed, accurate budget reconciliation reports each month.
  • By the end of April, complete the required coursework and attain the agreed-upon project management credential to support all assigned initiatives.

These are not viable SMART goals:

  • Complete the Center’s improvement project.
  • Implement Salesforce.
  • Day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Develop staff.
  • Enhance my professional development.
  • Complete the certificate program.
  • Complete the MBA program and acquire a Master’s degree.
  • Review administrative procedures.
  • Enhance communication within the School.
  • Enhance financial competency.