When you think of organizing a performance review, the first thing that comes to mind is probably: what should I say in order to motivate and engage my employees? Should I just recognize them for their achievements and tell them a few areas to improve? How do I boost their performance? The answer is: if you really want to see improvement in your teams’ performance, the objectives you define for them should be SMART goals.

These are all important things to keep in mind when designing your performance review process. But there’s more to it than just that. When you plan a performance review meeting with an employee, you need to think through how best to set meaningful goals for them going forward. However, before starting with the design of your review, we recommend that you follow performance review examples that will help you define the right questions according to your objectives.

There are a lot of different ways to do this, and not every organization is the same. We’ll go over best practices for organizations to handle SMART goals at the end of a performance review period with employees.

What are SMART Goals?

Everyone can set goals. But how can you tell if these goals actually can come true and not just some type of pipe dreams? This is where the SMART mnemonic comes in:

  • S-pecific: The goal should be clear and specific, so that everyone understands what it is and what needs to be done.
  • M-easurable: There should be a way to measure progress towards the goal, so you can tell if it’s being met.
  • A-chievable: The goal should be challenging but achievable, so that it motivates employees to work towards it.
  • R-elevant: The goal should be relevant to the employee’s role and the organization’s objectives.
  • T-imely: The goal should have a timeframe attached to it so that employees know when they need to achieve it.

Why are SMART Goals important after a performance review?

A performance review is so much more than just a meeting where you give employees feedback on their work over the past year. It’s an opportunity to set goals for the future and help employees chart a path for their career development. You can read about the best practices and common mistakes in a performance review in this article. 

SMART goals are important because they ensure that these goals are actually achievable and relevant. They help employees to hit the ground running and start working towards them right away. 

Right after the performance review, employees’ minds are fresh and they’re motivated to make changes and improve. This is the perfect time to give them SMART goals to work towards.

SMART Goals review

How to set SMART Goals for employees after performance review?

There are a few different ways that you can go about setting SMART goals for employees after performance review:

Step 1: Define the purpose of each goal

The first step is to sit down and think about what you want each goal to accomplish. What do you hope to achieve by having employees work towards this goal? 

Once you have a clear understanding of the purpose of the goal, you can start thinking about how best to make it specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

Step 2: Estimate how much resources will be required

The next step is to think about what resources will be required to achieve the goal. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of what’s needed before setting the goal. 

This includes things like time, money, and manpower. If a goal is going to require a lot of resources–more than you can provide–then it might not be realistic and you should reconsider it. 

Step 3. Decide on a timing for the goal

After you’ve thought about the resources required, you need to attach a timeframe to the goal. This will help you make sure that the goal is timely and give employees a deadline to work towards. 

It’s important to choose a realistic and achievable timeframe so that employees don’t get discouraged. Always consider the difficulty of the goal and how long it will realistically take to achieve it.

Step 4: Set the goal with your employee

Once you have set a purpose and a timing for the goal is time to talk to your employee. Schedule a meeting and tell them the objectives that you have in mind. Use that as a starting point to set the SMART goals together. By asking for their feedback you realize if they have any suggestions on how the goal could be improved.

After you’ve gone over the goal together, confirm that they’re on board with it and committed to working towards it. Even the most brilliant SMART goals mean nothing if the employees themselves are not bought in.

A shareable and accessible format like training videos or simple PowerPoint presentation slides will come in handy to ensure everyone is on the same page about the goals. 

Step 5: Follow Up Regularly

Don’t just set the goal. Give autonomy to your employees to achieve the goals. They must own them!

Always check in with employees regularly to see how they’re progressing and offer any help or resources they might need. You don’t need to wait until the next performance review to follow up on the SMART goals. 

Instead of that, you can have monthly 1:1 meetings with your employees, so you can follow up on their progress with the SMART goals. It is also an opportunity to get to know even more about your employees.

According to a study conducted by Adobe, on average, managers spend 17 hours per employee preparing for a performance review. Yes, we know following up on your employees’ SMART goals progress through performance reviews and 1:1 meetings could be a difficult task, and even more so when you have a team of 5 or more people!

So, how do you follow up on your teams’ SMART goals progress and employee development? 

Easy! The answer to your problems is an employee engagement software to help you find the key to agile and easy performance reviews and set 1:1 meetings on a regular basis. Using one will help your managers organize these meetings and keep track of SMART goals and so much more!

Nailted - Performance Review

SMART Goals examples for employees

Now that you know how to set SMART goals for employees, here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Increase sales by 20% in the next quarter.
  • Develop a new marketing campaign and roll it out within the next two months.
  • Create a social media strategy and implement it within the next month.
  • Reduce customer churn by 50% in the next year.
  • Increase web traffic from organic search by 20% in the next quarter.
  • Get 100 new leads from the trade show in the next month.

As you can see from the examples above, SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. 

There’s always a clear purpose for each goal, and they’re always realistic and possible for each employee to make it come true without burning themselves out.

Setting SMART Goals result in a high performance culture

Giving your employees constructive feedback or positive feedback is an important part of their development, and setting goals for them after a performance review is a great way to help them improve their skills. However, if you want these goals to be effective, you need to make sure they are SMART.

Teamwork makes the dream work, they said. So, the key here is to work together with your employees to set SMART goals that will help them grow and improve. After all, high-performing employees will result in strong company culture and a high-performing company.

Remember, setting goals is just the first step—you also need to track progress and offer help along the way. But if you do it right, SMART goals can make a big impact on your business.