Goal Setting in Management

September 10, 2023
goal setting in management

Positive employee engagement comes with myriad benefits, including lowered turnover rates, higher overall productivity, and a boosted bottom line. This ultimately lends your organization a significant competitive advantage. And one critical aspect of effective management that allows you to achieve this involves collaborating with your direct-reports and other team members to set goals that keep them on-task, on time and motivated. 

So creating performance targets for your employees is an important piece of any leadership position. Equally important is setting goals and objectives for yourself which give you as well as your team a clear picture of your roles and responsibilities, in the day-to-day as well as bigger picture ambitions. 

In this article, we’re going to talk about how you as a manager can set effective goals for yourself, and collaborate with direct-reports to best leverage the competencies of your team. 

Benefits of Goal Setting in Management

The bottom line is that having a clear target helps keep you and those working around you focused and clear on their specific duties. Here are a few additional benefits to setting goals in management. 

  • Improved productivity. Less time is wasted on redundant or unnecessary tasks if everyone understands exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. Setting goals also empowers you and your team to make quick changes and decisions when new tasks arise or you need to change direction on a project.
  • Simplified delegation and responsibility. Effective goal setting in collaboration with your direct-reports allows you to leverage the specific skill sets of individual employees to the best advantage of the team. Ideally, everyone will be in the role best suited for them, and you won’t find yourself picking up slack or taking on tasks meant for someone else.
  • Better alignment. Understanding the personal goals of your direct-reports gives you insight into how to bring those goals into alignment with departmental goals, and the goals of the organization. This in turn allows employees to understand how their work directly contributes to company performance, and instills a sense of ownership and greater motivation. 

Management Goal Setting Best Practices

Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you set better goals as a manager. 

  • Think about where you are as well as where you want to be. Whether you’re setting a personal performance goal, a goal for your team or direct-report, starting off with an analysis of your current state and competencies can help you set more precise, more realistic objectives. It will also give you a good idea of your baseline, which is convenient for measuring later progress.
  • Let learning be a goal. It can be discouraging when an objective isn’t met if all of your targets focus solely on accomplishment.

    While there will be vital tasks which need to be completed, allow some space for objectives where learning and personal growth are the projected result. This is especially important if you are working with a direct-report to help them set personal goals.
  • Demonstrate relevance. Help your employees understand why a certain goal or objective is important. All of your decision making, especially when setting team targets, should be as transparent as possible to keep everyone working with you empowered and in the loop. Your direct reports will feel more motivated if they know what’s going on and why.
  • Play to your strengths, but know your limits. Goal setting often serves the purpose of helping you and your team grow and expand your individual and collective capabilities. Your task as a manager in setting objectives will be to understand your own strengths as well as those of your team members and leverage that to your best advantage.

    Equally important, however, is that you understand what is truly impossible for your team based on limitations – of skill, knowledge, resources, etc. Surpassing those limitations can be an aspirational goal which you set in the future. 

How to Write Management Goals

Another best practice you should include in your goal-setting repertoire is the use of clear goal-setting methods. The three most widely-used strategies today include OKRs, MBOs and the SMART goals method, and each can be effectively utilized to set management goals. Here’s how they work. 


Every manager needs to have this method in their tool kit. The Management By Objectives strategy is most effectively used to set expectations for team members within the context of broader company or departmental goals. 

To write an MBO for yourself or your direct-report, you will make a statement that describes a specific and detailed expectation to be worked towards. Here are a few examples. 

  • Work with direct reports to set personal productivity goals related to upcoming projects. 
  • Meet with junior mentees to deliver progress assessment and strategize interview questions. 
  • Attend DEI workshop for leadership. 


Think of OKRs as the next evolution of MBOs. The Objectives and Key Results strategy is a refined and updated take on the original MBO model, adding KPIs to the objective which allows you initially to understand how you are going to reach your goal, and to periodically assess progress.

To write an OKR, you will make a clear and detailed statement of your goal, and then write out a number of ‘key results’ which describe milestones which need to be met between now and the completion of your project. Here is an example. 


Objective: Improve team project turnaround time by 50%.

Key result: Work with team to better delegate responsibilities based on competencies. 

Key result: Update team resources including software, printer, and other outdated technologies to eliminate external drag factors.

SMART goals

The SMART strategy is the most recent goal-setting strategy, and is designed to give you as clear a picture of possible not only of your objective but also why this objective is relevant and doable. Elements of the SMART acronym include Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. 

To write your SMART objective, you will need to write out the various aspects of your objective using each key point of the acronym. Here’s an example. 


Specific – Improve team communication with a daily check-in via slack channel. 

Measurable – Time spent on restating responsibilities and tasks should be reduced by 75%.

Attainable – 10 minutes per day is easily doable for all team members. Preferable to a video call. 

Relevant – Primarily remote workforce means interpersonal interaction is limited; check in will allow the team to stay on the same page/personally engaged. 

Time-based – Time waste reduction should reach 75% by the end of the quarter. 

Goal Setting in Management: Final Thoughts

Approaching your leadership responsibilities with clear goals set for both you and your team will ensure that everyone stays on task and working towards a collective benefit.

Ronny Cheng

By Ronny Cheng

Ronny Cheng is a digital marketing consultant helps businesses of all sizes build high-performing digital marketing strategies that drive revenue.

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