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How to Set Goals
to Enhance Engagement
and Productivity

How to Set Goals to Enhance Engagement and Productivity

Some business owners dread the annual “performance review,” but reviews are an important first step in a performance management process that can help engage and motivate employees, while improving performance and productivity.

Goal-setting can help employees understand what activities are important to you and what’s expected of them, as well as what’s needed from them to progress in their career. But if employees aren’t engaged in the goal, or think it can’t be achieved, the process will fail.

Watson Wyatt surveyed employees and found this scary reality: 65% of employees aren’t engaged in their job or their workplace.1

Involving employees in goal-setting is a good way to boost engagement. Use review meetings to continue the discussion about business objectives, the employee’s role in helping to realize those objectives, and career development opportunities.

Here are some more tips:

  • Focus on business and employees. Set goals that support your corporate objectives and help develop skills for future advancement.
  • Write it down. No one can achieve a goal that isn’t documented in black and white.
  • Be specific. Employees need tangible and measurable targets (such as decrease delivery time by 1 day, respond to customers ½ an hour faster or sell 5% more product).
  • Make it achievable. Lofty goals (sometimes called stretch goals) can demoralize your team – so keep them realistic.
  • Provide a timeframe. The realities of day-today activities will get in the way if there’s no deadline for completing goals.
  • Break down large goals. Employees are more likely to tackle projects broken into manageable tasks, each one with its own measurement and completion timeframe.
  • Reconnect regularly. Check-in with your employees periodically to help them stay on task, ask questions or get help. Feedback during the annual review shouldn’t be a surprise, and even employees who are struggling should already know what’s expected so they can enlist help from supervisors.

As a final note: When setting performance goals, don’t forget about new employees. As we mentioned in our article about “onboarding,” establishing goals for all new hires helps bring new employees up to speed faster, and gives them a clear path for success.2

How to Set Goals to Enhance Engagement and Productivity (PDF version)


1. Towers Watson. Global Workforce Study. 2012.

2. Inc. Magazine. How to Set Goals for New Employees. 2010.

The information contained in this HR Tip Sheet is summary in nature and is intended to provide general guidance. It should not be viewed as a replacement for legal or professional advice.

The ADP logo and ADP are registered trademarks of ADP, Inc. All other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2013 ADP, Inc.

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