Tips to Create Successful Performance Appraisal Goals

Setting goals appropriately during the performance appraisal process empowers employees to succeed.
gilaxia/E+/Getty Images

'Do you think that the goal setting component of the performance appraisal process is a large part of why performance appraisals don't work?  I've spoken with many people who think the goal-setting portion of the performance appraisal system interferes with its effectiveness.

People set too many goals and they micromanage the how of accomplishing the goals, when in reality, an employee should have broad, thoughtful goals that zero in on the most important requirements the organization needs from their position.

If an employee has more than five or six goals, the organization’s expectations are too high, and/or the manager is micromanaging the how and the steps involved in accomplishing the broader goals.

With too many goals that the employee can't see reaching, discouragement and distrust for the company's direction will set in. The employee will also feel that he is missing out on clear direction.

Or, if he 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.

Employees need to have the end in mind but manage their own route with feedback and coaching along the way.

Improve Performance Appraisal Goals

Use these three ideas to improve performance appraisal goals.

  • Improve performance appraisals by the number and the quality of the goals set. If there are more than five or six key 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.
  • Improve performance appraisals by taking a serious look at the detail involved in the employee’s goals. If there are more than five or six, you may be micromanaging how the employee will achieve the goals rather than setting overall goals for his or her performance. Don’t micromanage how the employee achieves goals.
  • Trust the employee to figure out how to attain the goal. Be available for discussion, feedback, and coaching. Uncomfortable? Establish a critical path with the employee, a series of points at which the employee will provide feedback about progress to you. This makes sense because, overall, as the manager, you are responsible for the achievement of the goals.

Managing by Objectives, an occasionally popular style of management, tends, in the hands of most managers, to become way too nit picky about the employees' goals. Focus, instead, on what you really need the employees to accomplish. Communicated clearly, and if you get out of their way, the employees are likely to surprise you with their performance.


If you can, provide these components of goals and effective goal setting as you work with your employees.

Employees who know their goals, receive regular feedback on their progress and are recognized when they accomplish the goals will be successful employees.

Managers who empower employees to accomplish their agreed upon goals are successful managers.

And isn't this the desired outcome of any goal setting process whether you call it performance appraisal, performance evaluation, or, my preferred, performance development planning.

Performance Appraisal Tips