The modern employment environment requires that businesses manage talent retention and development as a part of its overall business strategy and ensure performance management systems are in place to identify and nurture top talent, and improve on weaknesses and inefficiencies.

An ideal performance management system would be one which satisfies the following objectives:-

  1. To improve company, team and individual performance;
  2. To link company objectives and strategies with individual contribution and impact;
  3. To measure the progress made towards the achievement of the company’s strategic business objectives by evaluating performance, identifying improvements, developing new objectives and converting exceptional individual performance into rewards.

To clarify objectives, companies must clearly define and communicate the goals employees are expected to achieve.

Goal Science

There is a right way and wrong way to set goals. Most people want to be involved in determining goals that make the most sense for them given the company’s strategic objectives and their personal needs and capabilities. This involves giving employees some sense of participation in the goal-setting process.

While it may be tempting to define dozens of goals, it is critical to focus on the few that are most important. Some methodologies advocate that individuals only focus on one goal. However, goal science best practices show a range of three-to-five goals is most advantageous.

Convoluted goals – or too many goals – are hard to measure and prioritise. Organisations with high levels of goal clarity were four times more likely to score in the top quartile of business performance.

The frequency with which employees revise or renew their goals – especially in an environment in which business goals and objectives may change over the course of the year – can impact the bottom line. Organisations where employees revise or review their goals quarterly or more frequently were three-and-a-half times more likely to score in the top quartile of business performance.

To be aligned, goals should be connected vertically – an individual’s goals connect to (and do not conflict with) a manager’s goals – and horizontally – an individual’s goals connect (and do not conflict) across teams.

Businesses embracing best practice goal science can keep everyone working well together by making sure goals are not established in isolation. A company committed to goal setting will identify someone who can help educate all teams, track progress, and make the necessary changes to keep processes on track. This can be the chief operating officer or someone else in a leadership position.

Goals should be drafted and owned by individuals, reviewed by managers, and tracked by both.

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S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Anyone who regularly sets goals knows the importance of defining goals clearly. The most basic and successful goal-setting strategies leverage the S.M.A.R.T. framework, refrain from difficult to understand language, and focus on the vital few—the ones that truly matter.

Instead of vague resolutions, S.M.A.R.T. goal setting creates verifiable trajectories towards a certain objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal’s attainability. Every goal or objective, from intermediary step to overarching objective, can be made S.M.A.R.T. and as such, brought closer to reality.

What Does S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting Stand For?


What exactly do you want to achieve? Your goals should be targeted, nor broad and general. They should be unambiguous and explicit.


You should be able to tell quickly and easily if you’ve met your goal. Develop a set of criteria that will be indicative of success or failure in meeting each of your goals.

Ambitious & Achievable

Is your goal attainable? Set goals that are challenging but not incredibly difficult to achieve. A challenging goal is motivating, an impossible one is demotivating. If you don’t have the time, resources or talent to reach a certain goal you’ll certainly fail and be miserable.

Result Oriented

Focus on results; avoid the activity trap. Your goals should focus on the results you want to achieve, not the activities you will undertake to get there. For example, “improved presentation skills” is a result; “participating in a presentation skills training program” is an activity. It’s possible to complete activities and not achieve the desired result.


Time is money! Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines, for yourself and your team, and go after them.

About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.


The information provided in this knowledge base article is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.

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