Tips to Create Successful Performance Appraisal Goals

What a Manager Can Do to Improve Performance Appraisal Goals

Setting performance appraisal goals helps an employee understand his manager's expectations.
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Do you think that the goal-setting component of the performance appraisal process is a large part of why performance appraisals don't work? Many people think that the goal-setting portion of the performance appraisal system interferes with the effectiveness of the overall process.

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

In one organization, the employees had written goals that took up two to three pages when printed on paper. Just reading the goals plus the manager's recommended steps on how to accomplish the goals was a challenge. No person can clearly understand their responsibilities and identify the most important aspects of their job when they are facing pages and pages of goals.

Too Many Performance Appraisal Goals

If an employee has more than four to six goals, the organization’s expectations are too high and may be a sign the manager is micromanaging 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 the needed clear direction, which is recognized regularly as one of the worst characteristics of managers who are identified as bad bosses.

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. This lowers an employee's feelings of adequacy and self-worth. In the ideal organization, delegation, goal-setting, and accomplishments should raise an employee's self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

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 within the strategic framework of the organization while bringing forth their engagement and commitment to achieving all of the expectations.

Improve Performance

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 four to 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. It makes sense because, as the manager, you are responsible for the achievement of the goals.

Managing by Objectives

Managing by objectives often becomes overly concerned with the minutiae of an employee's goals. Focus, instead, on what you need the employees to accomplish. If you communicate the goals and objectives clearly, and if you get out of their way, the employees are likely to surprise you with their astonishing performance.


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.