Does Goal Setting Affect Employee Performance?

Sheri Cyprus

Goal setting can affect employee performance in many positive ways if the goals are both relevant to the company and realistic and achievable by the employee. Employers must give employees a clear direction when it comes to setting goals so that the objectives of top management are being met. If employers guide employees in setting goals that really matter to the company, the employee is often more empowered knowing his or her job is actually important to the organization's success. The results of such empowerment on employee performance are often an increased motivation to do the job and an increased sense of loyalty to the company.

Employee goals consist of clear, written descriptions of specific actions to be completed by a set date.
Employee goals consist of clear, written descriptions of specific actions to be completed by a set date.

Although pay raises and/or promotions are goal setting incentives that should be awarded when warranted, increased motivation and increased loyalty can also result from the positive attitude employers give employees in the goal planning and goal achievement processes. Studies show that employees often exceed performance expectations. This is demonstrated in employees achieving higher than expected sales quotas, especially when they feel they can trust their employer to be fair and appreciative of their work efforts.

Accurate communication is crucial in setting employee goals.
Accurate communication is crucial in setting employee goals.

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Remember that a goal is a clear written description of a specific action to be completed by a set date. Goal setting done in writing is extremely important as then the goal becomes a decisive plan for achievement rather than just a notion. Progress on goal achievement should be reviewed at regular intervals, especially in long-term goal setting situations to keep both the employee and the employer on track and up to date.

Accurate communication is crucial in setting goals to ensure the goal is interpreted and understood to mean the same thing to both the employer and the employee. The use of verbs such as write, complete, file, and prepare, helps in establishing a clear goal. Successful goal planning between the employer and the employee usually leads to successful goal achievement. Workers guided in achieving reasonable goals with reasonable incentives for their achievements are likely to stay with the organization longer and tend to refer similarly talented and motivated workers to the company. Goal setting can even affect poor performers in a positive way when managers coach these employees to help them to achieve set objectives.

Progress on goal achievement should be reviewed at regular intervals in order to keep employees informed and on track .
Progress on goal achievement should be reviewed at regular intervals in order to keep employees informed and on track .

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Discussion Comments


Comfyshoes- The important thing to remember when working with goal setting strategies is that incremental changes are better than seeking rapid short term gains because you are more likely to sustain progress and make it more likely to reach the goal. Progress not perfection is what is required for a long term goal.

For example, when discussing career goal setting it is wise to think about what are the tools that you will need to obtain your desired job.

It may require you to seek an advanced degree, or work within a variety of departments within your company in order to move up the ladder.

It also may require you to be flexible within the company and be willing to relocate when others haven't been willing to relocate. Usually if the goal is to seek a managerial position you really have to prove yourself and do flawless work.

You might also set goals to come in earlier and perhaps stay little bit later than usual. People that get promoted usually work the hardest and demonstrate their work ethic all the time.

Goal setting is not difficult but must be targeted and a focused because without a plan is just a dream.

Goal setting should have a certain level of accountability. You should set monthly and maybe quarterly goals and track this information in a journal or a calendar so you can visually see the progress that you made in that time.

Week by week you may not see the progress, but after a few months you will see a big difference and it will keep you motivated towards your goal setting activities.


Sunny27-Setting up a goal setting worksheet with an employee helps them to have a mental picture of what would be required to reach that goal.

Often when employees go to motivational seminars offered by the company it has them thinking about personal goal setting as well as goal setting for business.

Once you have a roadmap of where you want to go and what you wanted you that all you have to do is work towards it. A goal setting example is to finish reports a day before they are do. Taking a proactive approach to your job fuels your desire to seek a better position.


Cafe41- A great book regarding the unlocked potential of the human mind is “The Silva Mind Method” by Jose Silva.

This book teaches relaxation techniques that tap into the hidden potential of the subconscious mind. It is really geared towards sales professionals because it teaches them how to deal with rejection and how to succeed despite it.

For example, the author determines that for every 10 calls he makes he might make one appointment. So he anticipates nine rejections before they actually happen.

This change is the salesperson's perception helps them understand that the rejection is not personal and the rejection is part of the job. This allows the salesperson to relax and actually achieve more.

A positive outlook is also critical with regards to personal goal setting as well as an understanding that temporary set backs do happen and you should continue with your goal.


Anon12841- I think the best way of serving a company's needs is by helping the company fix problems.

Offering contributions that help make the company more productive and more profitable are really ways to set goal setting strategies.

If you help the company with major problems you will be highly valued and compensated for your efforts.

Smart goal setting really determines where you want to be strategically within a few years. Business goal setting has to be written so that you can look at your goals and be reminded of them.

It is important to do something every single day to work towards your goal no matter how small the gains in progress are. This will help you gain the progress and perspective that you need to reach your goal.

You should listen to motivational tapes and read books that will inspire you.


how do you see yourself best serving the company's need's?

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