Development goals for employees

June 7, 2024 By Kit Germeroth

To stay ahead in today’s competitive landscape, companies have to constantly innovate and evolve. Central to this evolution is the development of their greatest asset: their employees. By investing in employee development, organizations can ensure sustained success and adaptability in an ever-changing market.

However, it’s important to establish a clear framework to integrate employee development into your company. Read on to learn more about employee development and see examples of development goals for employees.

What is employee development?

Employee development — also referred to as staff development or professional development — includes any form of professional training or continuing education that employers offer to employees. This training allows employees to enhance their existing skills and gain new abilities, all while aligning their individual career growth with organizational goals. 

Professional development covers a variety of internal and external learning opportunities, including professional certifications, advanced courses, seminars, and mentorship programs.

Why is employee development important?

Employee development is a continuous process that benefits both the employees and the organization. For employees, it can lead to increased job satisfaction, higher motivation, and better career prospects. 

For organizations, it can result in improved employee engagement and productivity, higher retention rates, increased company profitability, and a more skilled and adaptable workforce. Making employee development a key part of your company culture also helps attract elite candidates. 

4 examples of employee development goals

While development goals can vary depending on the individual, their career goals, and their organization, they should always follow the SMART format and be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. 

For example, instead of vague goals such as “increase sales,” a SMART goal could be to “increase quarterly sales by 10% compared to the previous quarter by implementing a targeted marketing campaign and offering promotional discounts to repeat customers.” This provides a clear target, outlines the actions needed to achieve it, and specifies a timeframe for evaluation.

Let’s look at how to define goals that fit into various categories while keeping the SMART method in mind: 

1. Performance goals

Employee performance goals are an essential element of any successful business plan and serve as specific objectives set to improve an employee’s work performance. 

Often, these goals are integrated into an employee’s job responsibilities as short-term performance objectives that must be achieved to meet the requirements of their role. These goals are typically aligned with the organization’s overall objectives and are designed to enhance individual productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction by achieving measurable results. 

Examples of SMART performance goals include:

  • A software tester aiming to increase the accuracy of their work output by 15% over the next six months by improving their test planning and test case documentation. 
  • A marketing employee aiming to increase their company’s website traffic by 9% within three months by optimizing web content and launching a revised email marketing campaign.

2. Personal development goals

Personal development goals center around individual growth and learning, meaning that, while they do impact business objectives, this tends to occur indirectly. The purpose of these goals is to help employees gain new skills, knowledge, and abilities that can be used to improve their job performance and contribute to the success of the organization.

Personal development goals are typically self-driven and may involve employees seeking guidance and support from managers to achieve them. These kinds of employee development ideas are not always linked to specific performance metrics but can encourage employees to develop a growth mindset, boost their job satisfaction, and enhance their value to the organization.

Examples of SMART personal development goals include:

  • Long-term: An employee aiming to earn an advanced qualification within one year to increase their expertise in a field relating to their role. 
  • Short-term: An employee committing to achieving 50 new LinkedIn connections in the next three months by attending industry-relevant conferences, workshops, and events to increase their professional network. 

3. Leadership goals

Leading a team and inspiring them to reach their full potential requires a lot of hard work. Leadership goals are an excellent way of ensuring that this hard work is as effective as possible by directing existing leaders toward measurable initiatives and actions that encourage collaboration and relationship building. Setting leadership goals can also help you identify potential leaders in your organization by measuring how well they respond to leadership responsibilities such as mentoring, directing meetings, or leading mini-projects. 

Leadership goals focus on improving communication, trust, and team dynamics as a whole. By considering these elements within leadership objectives, managers can help team members work together more effectively toward a shared goal. This can then lead to higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and a more positive work environment.  

Examples of leadership goals include:

  • For an existing manager or team leader: To improve their conflict resolution skills. Within a SMART framework, this might involve the manager aiming to attend a series of conflict resolution workshops and then putting these new skills into practice by running mediation sessions with their team. They could then ask their team members to provide feedback and scores as a way of measuring their level of improvement in conflict resolution. 
  • For a future leader: Place a team member in charge of a small team project to be completed by a certain standard within three months. This offers the employee practical leadership experience while allowing the organization to measure their readiness for a leadership role via project completion statistics and team feedback.

4. Innovation goals

Innovation and creativity are essential to driving growth and maintaining a competitive edge. Setting innovation goals helps employees develop new ideas, products, and processes that contribute to business success. By fostering a culture of innovation and risk-taking, managers can encourage employees to embrace new challenges and think outside the box. Innovation goals can include developing new ideas or processes, promoting a culture of innovation, and staying ahead of the competition with cutting-edge products.

There are many advantages to setting innovation goals. They inspire employees to remain proactive and engaged, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity. Innovation goals also drive business growth by ensuring the organization continually adapts to industry trends and best practices. By setting clear, achievable targets for innovation, companies can systematically encourage creativity and problem-solving, leading to sustained competitive advantages.

Examples of innovation goals in a SMART format include:

  • An employee aiming to attend a different industry-relevant training workshop or conference every month to gain inspiration and stay informed about industry trends and best practices. 
  • An employee contributing at least one innovative idea or solution at each quarterly performance review. As well as improving current products or processes, this innovation goal can help enhance internal efficiency, boost productivity, and drive business growth.

How to choose the right development goals

All employee development goals have their merits. However, it’s crucial to align employee performance goals with organizational objectives to ensure that both employees and the organization can reap the most benefits. To create effective development plans for each of your organization’s employees, you must: 

  • Assess current strengths and weaknesses: Use performance reviews, self-assessments, and feedback from peers and supervisors to evaluate each employee’s current skill set, performance levels, and areas needing improvement. Understanding where employees excel and where they struggle provides a foundation for setting targeted development goals.
  • Assess needs of the business: Analyze the strategic goals and needs of your business to identify which skills and competencies are essential for achieving these objectives. By aligning employee development with business needs, you ensure that the workforce evolves in tandem with organizational goals.
  • Create a development plan: Create individualized development plans that focus on bridging the gap between current capabilities and required skills. These plans should outline SMART goals that guide employees in acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge.
  • Offer advice on development activities: Provide employees with guidance on selecting appropriate training and development activities. This includes recommending relevant courses, workshops, certifications, and on-the-job training opportunities. Encourage employees to seek mentorship and coaching, and to participate in cross-functional projects that expand their expertise and experience.
  • Explain how to track progress: Implement a system to regularly monitor and evaluate employee progress toward their development goals. This can involve setting milestones, conducting periodic reviews, and using performance metrics to assess improvement.

With Moodle to help you, following these steps to unlock the full potential of employee development is even easier. Moodle Workplace allows you to design, implement, and track personalized development plans that empower your employees to thrive. 

Build more effective employee development programs

Ready to take the first step toward driving growth and achieving your business goals? Get in touch with our team to learn how Moodle can help.