Goal Setting Tip Sheet

Clear performance goals and objectives are identified and communicated at the beginning, as well as throughout the performance process. Goals and objectives may need to be reassessed as new duties or projects come about. Goals identify what is expected and allow for staff member improvement and growth.

The supervisor and staff member should identify goals for the upcoming review period. There are two types of goals to consider: performance goals and/or developmental goals.

  • Performance goals are typically short term objectives that could be accomplished in a fiscal year and are related to his/her current position job duties.
  • Developmental goals are tied to an anticipated or current need and are typically longer term. They look at future development of the staff member.
Whether the goal is related to performance or development, it should support the department’s mission and/or a specific project or program. The number of goals identified will depend on the staff member’s position.

When considering goals look at the following for each individual staff member:

  • Major areas of responsibility
  • Skills and behaviors needed to complete the areas of responsibility
  • Identify strengths to leverage. In what ways does the employee already excel?
  • Specify who, what, where, and why for the goal to ensure shared understanding of the expectations.
  • Development plan. Development areas could cover four different kinds of development:
    • Development to improve areas of performance, skills or behaviors. (How might employees strengthen their effectiveness and/or skills?)
    • Development to enhance skills and performance (such as obtaining a new skill, increasing knowledge, taking a course, doing a training, presenting, etc.)
    • Development for long term career advancement (what strengths do they have? What do they enjoy? Where do they want to go in their career? What things can you do to help?)
    • Development for career exploration (doing a few new job tasks, job shadowing, mentoring and so on)

The use of SMART goal format for both performance and developmental goals is highly recommended. SMART goals are the following:

Specific: well defined, clear and unambiguous; specifically define what you expect done/delivered
Measurable: define specific criteria for measuring progress toward accomplishing each established goal
Achievable: require staff members to stretch but are not impossible to achieve
Relevant: the goal is related to the department’s mission and/or a specific project or program
Timely: the time frame is clearly defined or progress toward achievement is tracked at regular intervals

Some sample words to help write goals are below:

Use an action verb - Increase, Complete, Conduct, Attain, Achieve
Make it measurable - How much?, How many?, How much better?, How much faster?, Costs how much less?
Answer by when - Phase 1 by June 1, Phase 2 by August 1, By the 5th day of each month
Follow these criteria - Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic, Time Bound

Goal Setting and Development Plan form (pdf)