Careers Succeeding at Work Tips to Create Successful Performance Appraisal Goals What a Manager Can Do to Improve Performance Appraisal Goals Share PINTEREST Email Print Radius Images / Getty Images Succeeding at Work Human Resources Management Careers Job Search Resources Hiring Best Practices Glossary Employment Law Employee Motivation Employee Management Management & Leadership Employee Benefits Table of Contents Expand Tips for Goals in a Performance Appraisal 3 Key Ways to Improve Employee Performance Final Thoughts on Successful Goal Setting By Susan M. Heathfield Susan M. Heathfield Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 10/01/20 Many people think that the goal-setting portion of the performance appraisal system interferes with the effectiveness of the overall process, which is why they often don't work. However, the goal-setting process, in and of itself, is not really the problem. The problem is that people set too many goals, and then, they micromanage the "how-to-do" of the employee accomplishing the goals. What should happen, in contrast, is, each employee should have broad, thoughtful goals that zero in on the most important requirements the organization needs to acquire from their contribution. Tips for Goals in a Performance Appraisal Use the following tips to make sure you are setting your employees up for success with goals that focus on the contribution your organization most needs from them. Giving Add On Goals Following the Appraisal Meeting Giving an employee a goal after an appraisal meeting is something that should be done sparingly. The employee should already have agreed upon a time period's goals in the meeting and exchange. Too Many Goals and Micromanaging You will want to avoid over-managing the employee as they work to achieve their goals. If an employee has more than four to six goals, the organization’s expectations are too high and maybe a sign the manager is micromanaging the steps involved in accomplishing the broader goals. For example, the first three goals are to first, increase the quality of the parts produced by 10% as measured by the quality indicators by the end of the next appraisal time period. The second is to use the quality indicator known as thickness to increase the quality of the parts. The third is to use the quality indicator weight to ensure all parts are created equal. Note that the first goal is appropriate. The second and third are micromanaging the employee's work. The Lack of Clear Direction and Discouragement With too many goals that the employee can't see reaching, you will find that discouragement and distrust for the company's direction will set in. The employee will also feel that they are missing out on the needed clear direction, which is recognized regularly as one of the worst characteristics of managers who are identified as bad bosses. No Differentiation in Importance If an employee is told that all of those goals are important and he must achieve them all, he will have no sense of his real priorities. This leads to the feeling that he is not actually performing effectively in his role. Micromanaging the How-To of Achieving the Goal Employees need to have the end in mind but manage their own route with feedback and coaching along the way. It empowers employees to contribute to the strategic framework of the organization while bringing forth their engagement and commitment to achieving all of the expectations. 3 Key Ways to Improve Employee Performance Use these methods to improve performance appraisal goals. They are simple, yet powerful, as they encourage positive goal completion. Set around four to six goals. The employee has signed up for an unachievable agenda. Always encourage and enable time so the employee can work on personally desired developmental goals in addition to the business goals. You’ll end up with an effective, successful, contributing employee who is meeting his or her needs at work, too. Take a serious look at the detail involved in the employee’s goals. If the detail is too specific or additional goals tell the employee how to accomplish the goal as in the above example, you may be micromanaging. This will bring about discouragement as the employee feels constrained. Trust the employee to figure out how to attain the goal. Be available for discussion, feedback, and coaching. If you're uncomfortable with that, establish a critical path with the employee, which is a series of points at which the employee will provide feedback about progress to you. Final Thoughts on Successful Performance Goal Setting If you can, always provide these components of goals for effective goal-setting as you work with your employees. Employees who know their goals, receive regular feedback on their progress, and are rewarded and recognized for goal-achievement are likely to succeed and stay in your organization. Managers who empower employees to accomplish their agreed-upon goals are successful managers. Managers who know how to stay out of the way and cheer their employees on are even more successful. Certainly, this is the desired outcome of any goal-setting process, whether you call it performance appraisal, performance evaluation, or, the current preferred strategy, performance development planning.