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Goals That Are Important to Improving Job Performance

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Writing down specific goals is an important part of moving ahead in your job. Whether you're an employee who wants to get a promotion or a manager who wants to get a raise for leading a successful team, a key part of your strategy is writing effective goals. Although your goals will vary depending on the job description, all goals should match a series of traits to bring about success and motivation.

Make Your Goals SMART

Make your goals adhere to the SMART acronym if you want to create goals that are both achievable and motivating. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant and Timely. In other words, your goals should be well-defined with concrete milestones, not be so ambitious that you can't achieve them, relevant to your job description and the company's overall goals, and include a time frame for when the goal needs to be achieved.

Specify Criteria to be Reached

A vague goal won't motivate an employee to work harder because the employee won't be sure if he's achieving the goal. A vague goal is also nearly impossible to use during an annual performance evaluation, as it can be bent according to the whims of the person doing the evaluation. Performance goals should explicitly describe what criteria will be used to determine if the goal is met. For example, instead of a goal simply stating that sales will be increased, the goal could state that sales will be increased by 20 percent by the end of the year.

Include Career Development Goals

Part of improving an employee's performance involves growing skills and contributing to the employee's education. For example, if an employee is a good writer but could be better at marketing, you might consider sending him to a marketing seminar. These career development opportunities should be written down as goals to improve an employee's performance. To facilitate this, the employee should be asked to search for conferences, meetings or seminars that will improve his skills. He can then write down attending these meetings as part of his goals for the year. The goal should include exactly which skills he hopes to improve with these seminars.

Individualize Each Person's Goals

If several people in a department have the same job description, it may be tempting to write the exact same job performance goals for each person. But doing so can decrease motivation by making employees feel like they're a cog in a wheel. Instead, find a way to individualize each employee's performance goals. Consider each person's particular skills, areas that need improvement, and ways they can use their individual strengths to do better at their jobs.

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