Goal Setting

In Goal Setting, the manager and employee plan for the year and describe what will be accomplished and how it will be achieved. They discuss how each goal links to department.

Goals describe “what success looks like” both in terms of what will be accomplished and how it will be achieved.

At the beginning of the fiscal year, managers and employees discuss priorities for the upcoming performance period—either during or shortly after performance reviews.

Ideally, before these conversations occur, departments and teams have set and communicated goals for the year ahead. This makes it easier for managers and employees to discuss how to align individual goals with those of the organization.

Together, managers and employees create specific performance and developmental goals for the year based on:

  • Employee’s role expectations, job responsibilities, and development objectives
  • Manager’s priorities and goals
  • Department and University priorities and goals

Tools and Resources

Effective goals clearly define expectations for “what” and “how” work is expected to be accomplished. They are developed with the employees and include development and learning objectives.

A goal describes:

  1. What action you will take? (process or deliverable)
  2. For whom? (client, stakeholder)
  3. Why is it important? (purpose)
  4. When you will do it? (timeframe)

The SMART model is a popular goal-setting tool and it is easy to remember. Each letter in the word “SMART” represents a key element of a complete and actionable goal:

  • S – Specific: Is the goal explained with enough detail that it can be well understood by those involved in its completion and by any stakeholders?
  • M – Measurable: How will those involved in completing the goal know it has been accomplished and how will stakeholders determine its success?
  • A – Attainable: Is the goal attainable or feasible given the resources available?
  • R – Relevant: Does the goal align with, support, or advance the organization’s vision, mission, values, principles, and strategies?
  • T – Time bound: Does the goal have a target date for completion?

Though useful because of its simplicity, relying solely on the SMART model for goal-setting may result in a goal lacking in critical details, or the goal may be too rigid, inhibiting creative ideas or flexibility to adjust achieve a better outcome than originally intended.

To record and track the status of goals, we recommend employees and managers consider using the sample goal sheet.