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Goals & OKRs

SMART work goals examples for your evaluations: help employees do their best work

Leapsome Team
SMART work goals examples for your evaluations: help employees do their best work
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Recent research at Leapsome found that 36% of employees report insufficient career growth and 27% cite a lack of clarity on company direction as their top reasons for quitting.* SMART goals for work performance can help you develop your talent and show people how their individual roles contribute to wider organizational objectives.   

Goals that are SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound — provide clarity and alignment in your performance evaluations. What’s more, advances in AI have made them easier to define, with tools that can generate your SMART goals for you with a simple prompt. 

However, to make SMART goals truly effective, managers should treat them as motivational tools rather than rigid mandates. It’s important not to create stress around hitting targets for employees to get certain performance scores or move up a pay grade. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to use the SMART criteria to enable team members to take ownership of their work experience, their long-term objectives, and their professional development goals. We’ll also provide SMART work goals examples, breaking down each component so you can apply them to performance reviews as well as other scenarios. 

*Leapsome Workforce Trends Report, 2023

🤝 Create more alignment with the right goal-setting tools

Leapsome Goals (now with AI-powered features) makes it simple to set SMART goals for your company, teams, and individual contributors.

Learn more 

What makes a goal SMART? 

SMART goals help team members and organizations realize more concrete results and avoid misunderstandings and bottlenecks by injecting more clarity and specificity into the goal-setting process, especially in a performance review.

The term SMART is an acronym that can be broken down into:

  • SpecificWhat exactly do I want to accomplish and how?
  • MeasurableHow will I measure my progress and know if I’ve reached my goal? 
  • AchievableIs this goal attainable within current constraints?
  • RelevantDoes this goal align with my overall objectives and the broader goals of the organization?
  • Time-boundWhat is the deadline for achieving this goal? When will I know if I’ve succeeded?

So, how does this work in practice?

Let’s say a sales representative wants to increase her monthly sales. That’s a vague goal that doesn’t give a clear framework for how she’ll measure that improvement, how she’ll make it happen, or how long it should take.

Working together with her team lead during a performance review, she might land on this SMART goal: “Increase monthly sales by 15% within the next quarter by implementing targeted client outreach strategies.”

Now they’re both on the same page about how the sales rep will proceed with her goals and how she’ll track progress within a given time frame.

In this way, SMART criteria help teams create goal-setting practices that are aligned with both company and individual development objectives, ultimately contributing to improved employee performance and overall organizational success.

A screenshot of Leapsome's AI-powered Goals module.
Goal-setting software like Leapsome uses AI and analytics to make your goals achievable and trackable

Setting SMART goals for employees

SMART goals for employee performance are crucial because they help keep everyone’s energy directed toward your broader company priorities and objectives. For maximum effectiveness, SMART goals can be combined with cascading goals — using a tool like Leapsome, you can visualize tiered goals at organization, department, team, and individual levels.

While SMART goals shouldn’t be connected directly to performance scores or compensation, they can act as soft benchmarks in performance reviews to steer your conversation in a more productive direction. SMART goals also integrate smoothly into any continuous goal-setting framework and are perfect for automatic monitoring. That’s ideal for ambitious organizations that value ongoing growth.

However, entrepreneur Colin Campbell, writing for Built In, advises: 

“Optimism is pivotal in a startup for fostering a belief in the vision. But failing to be aligned on goals or being too optimistic can drain the enthusiasm for both the company and the team.”

To avoid this, when setting SMART goals for employee performance, be sure to:

  • Encourage collaboration If you’re working with direct reports who are new to setting SMART goals, encourage them to book time with a manager even outside of a performance review so they can offer guidance.

  • Keep them flexible — You can adjust employee performance goals at any point in the performance cycle if circumstances change.

  • Consider employee motivation and enthusiasm Team members should feel they have ownership and autonomy over their SMART goals and not experience them as top-down mandates.

  • Make them as straightforward as possible Simplicity, not complexity, is the order of the day when it comes to setting SMART goals. Review objectives regularly with your team to ensure they still make sense and you’re focusing on the right things. 
A screenshot of Leapsome's heatmapping tool within the Reviews module.
Leapsome’s Goals module integrates with performance reviews to make performance appraisals more productive

30 SMART goals for employees

If you’re looking to build scalable, sustainable systems for professional development and business growth, then implementing SMART goals for employees should be one of your biggest priorities. Why? Because you can adapt them to virtually any scenario. 

We’ve included 30 highly specific smart goal examples for employees to better illustrate how you can apply this helpful framework within different workplace contexts.

5 SMART performance objectives examples for productivity

To get faster at completing recurring tasks and projects and create more output, we suggest adapting these SMART performance objectives examples for productivity to inspire your team and individual objectives:

  • Reduce project completion time by 15% by the end of the next quarter by implementing time-saving tools and training for team members.
  • Increase utilization of team collaboration tools by 20% within the next two months to improve overall efficiency for individual employees.
  • Increase monthly sales calls by 10% within the next six weeks by providing more sales training and leveraging sales automation tools.
  • Decrease average response time to clients by 25% by the end of next quarter to improve customer satisfaction.
  • Shorten the average time taken to make team decisions by 25% within the next three months by implementing decision-making frameworks.
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5 SMART goals for new hires

SMART goals for new employees aren’t just essential for giving team members what they need to get the job done — they’re key to showing new hires you care about their growth. That matters when you consider that 20% of professionals quit within the first 45 days of employment.  With this in mind, here are five SMART goals for new hires to help you get your direct reports up to speed and focused on the future:

  • Become proficient with all company-specific software within the first month by attending onboarding and training sessions.
  • Achieve a score of 90% or higher on the product knowledge assessment within the first six weeks.
  • Participate in at least two communication workshops within the first quarter to improve communication skills.
  • Develop a personal growth plan, identifying specific career development goals and strategies, and discuss with the manager and HR team by the end of the first 60 days.
  • Achieve a client satisfaction rating of 80% within the first year by scheduling weekly check-ins with assigned clients and addressing their concerns.
An image of two employees sitting in a meeting, smiling.

Use SMART goals to drive efficiency and professional development initiatives forward

5 employee SMART goals for professional development

Increasing professional development opportunities has been a big priority for employers in recent years as they shift their focus to improve the employee experience

You can adapt these five employee SMART goals to support direct reports who are looking to improve technical skills, soft skills, or make a professional move within your company:

  • Achieve advanced proficiency in Salesforce by completing their training course within the next six months.
  • Acquire five more professional contacts in our industry by attending three industry events in the next six months.
  • Complete one strategic project that’s key to leadership within the next six months.
  • Successfully lead a cross-functional team to meet specific company growth objectives within the next six months.
  • Provide mentorship to three team members and receive 70% satisfaction scores on mentorship surveys within the next six months.

5 SMART goals for recruitment teams

Outdated hiring practices can keep organizations stuck in the past and missing out on today’s top talent, especially as we face growing shortages in technical expertise.

Thankfully, the SMART goal framework can give hiring teams the clarity and motivation they need to grow their companies sustainably. 

For example:

  • Decrease the average time to fill a position from five months to two months within the next quarter by creating a more streamlined recruitment and hiring process.
  • Boost the representation of underrepresented groups by 20% within the next six months by implementing more inclusive hiring practices and tracking diversity metrics within our recruitment pipeline.
  • Improve positive candidate feedback scores by 15% within the next six months by gathering applicant feedback at various stages and optimizing the hiring process.
  • Increase the number of new hires meeting performance expectations from 40% to 60% within the next year by conducting more structured interviews and implementing screening assessments.
  • Complete unconscious bias in hiring training within the next quarter to learn more about how we can eliminate discriminatory practices from the recruitment process.

5 SMART goals for customer satisfaction

It’s no secret that the rising inflation and economic uncertainty that have marked this decade are taking a toll on businesses as well as customers, particularly as many growing software companies focus less on scalability and more on finding ways to make their business models more sustainable for themselves and their clients.  

In this difficult environment, customer satisfaction teams need to experiment with new processes and develop new skills to improve the customer experience and hold on to long-term clients.

Use these customer-focused SMART goals to inspire your team: 

  • Improve customer satisfaction by 15% in the next quarter by researching and implementing tools for gathering customer feedback during the sales cycle.
  • Achieve a 20% increase in positive customer feedback within the next six months by training team members on customer care and personalization in client interactions.
  • Improve consistency across all customer communication channels by achieving a 15% increase in consistency scores within the next two quarters.
  • Decrease the number of escalated customer complaints by 15% in the next six months by practicing more proactive problem-solving techniques.
  • Improve net promoter score (NPS) by 10 points by making the self-service experience more streamlined with user-friendly guides, videos, tutorials, and FAQs.

5 SMART goals for employee engagement examples

If you’re a manager or HR professional tasked with improving morale and motivation within your department, consider how you can tweak these employee engagement SMART goals examples for your unique situation:

  • Reach a 90% rate of employee participation in engagement surveys the next quarter by communicating the impact of these surveys and making them easier to fill out. 
  • Increase the team’s overall satisfaction score by 15% on the next quarterly survey by actively listening to team member concerns, implementing ideas, and hosting bi-monthly team-building events.
  • Collaborate on and create individual professional development plans for 100% of direct reports by addressing skills gaps and training opportunities by the end of the month.
  • Achieve a 25% increase in positive team feedback on your rewards and recognition program within the next three months by regularly recognizing team member achievement in meetings and creating a peer recognition system.
  • Incorporate team members’ input in at least 80% of major decisions within the next six months by conducting regular team brainstorming sessions and setting up decision-making committees.

Support employee goals and drive results with Leapsome

A screenshot of Leapsome's Goals module being used to track business-critical company targets.
Use Leapsome Goals to prioritize better — and finally meet objectives that have been on the back burner

There are likely a lot of things your company and team want to accomplish this year, and SMART goals can help you reach these objectives.

To really drive performance and achieve those desired outcomes, though, you’ll need a powerful, customizable tool like Leapsome on your side. With Leapsome, teams can set — and meet — impactful SMART goals, using our Goals module. With flexible metrics and features for requesting feedback from collaborators, our platform simplifies goal-tracking and makes it easier for distributed teams to push projects forward.

Goals also integrates with our Reviews module, which means managers don’t have to dig through data to see what progress their direct reports have made with their SMART goals — they’ll have the information at their fingertips for each performance evaluation.

What’s more, with a simple prompt and two clicks, our AI-powered platform can generate SMART goals and even OKRs automatically so you can devote more energy to meeting targets that matter. 

Leapsome is a comprehensive solution that not only streamlines goal-setting but also ensures a cohesive approach to employee performance evaluations, ultimately driving success across your organization.

🧑‍🍳 No need to build SMART goals completely from scratch

Our Goals module acts as your co-collaborator in creating and monitoring achievable, results-driven SMART goals.

Book a demo 

Written By

Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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