Individual Goals


Each employee will be charged with three to five individual goals. Unlike the institutional goals, individual goals are NOT intended to cover all aspects of an employee’s work product. Instead, these goals will focus on factors such as key results, outcomes, and/or deliverables.

There is not one specific way to write individual goals. Instead, the development of individual goals is a flexible process that allows the goals to be tailored to each employee and his or her role. As a supervisor, you are encouraged to work with your employee to discuss and determine his or her individual goals for the upcoming cycle. Making the goal development process a collaborative one will give your employee the chance to be fully invested in his or her role. The more invested an employee is in achieving a goal, the more likely the goal will be accomplished and completed well.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I write SMARTER goals?
     SMARTER Goals
  • What are some different ways to write Individual Goals?
    There are countless ways to create individual goals. We are going to offer two possible perspectives that you may consider using as you and your employee develop these goals: (1) the SCOPE perspective, and (2) the FUNCTION perspective.

    You may consider developing an employee’s goals based on various levels or scopes. This method balances “big picture” goals that connect an employee with university or division initiatives with employee-specific goals that pertain uniquely to an employee’s distinct role or responsibilities. This perspective telescopes from division-wide goals, down to work-unit or job-class goals, and further to employee-specific goals, allowing your employee to set goals at each level of the organization.

    You may also consider developing an employee’s goals based on various functions within his or her role. This perspective enables you and your employee to breakdown the elements of his or her role into different focus areas, highlighting key responsibilities or projects for the upcoming cycle. This may result in some overlap with elements of the institutional goals.
  • How do I write forward-focused Individual Goals?
    Most individual goals should be forward-focused. That means that they should align with both the work unit’s and the University’s strategic goals and mission, if possible. For example, if the Chancellor sets an initiative for increased effective community engagement, then supervisors might develop individual goals toward increasing community outreach or involvement in the work unit. If the individual goal is accomplished, then it should help the organization move forward in some way to make things more efficient, less hectic, more understandable, etc. to help make the work unit work better for employees, supervisors, and customers. 
  • What happens if an individual goal is established for me at the beginning of the cycle but then goes away? Will I still be evaluated on it? Will it negatively affect my rating?
    It depends. Some individual goals may not be established until later into the cycle. Some may be for projects with a shorter timeframe rather than for the entire cycle.

    An individual goal may end if: the work unit’s priorities have shifted, so the goal is no longer required or critical; the work duties associated with the goal operationally have been assigned to another person or group; the employee’s work performance is not meeting expectations, so the work has been assigned to another person.

    If the reason for the goal ending is primarily the fault of the employee, then the goal should still be reflected in the employee’s performance appraisal. If the reason for the goal ending was not primarily the fault of the employee, then the supervisor can choose either not to rate the goal or remove it (provided the employee has at least three rated goals remaining), replace it with a new goal, or rate the work product that the employee was able to complete prior to the goal ending.

Tools and Resources

Our favorite goal-setting tool is this Goal-Setting Worksheet

Use this worksheet to brainstorm and flush out your employee’s or your own individual goals. Fill out each section to dive deeper into the goal-creation process:

  • Description Section: Type the basics of your goal. This box should tell you what you want to accomplish, by when you want to accomplish it, and why you want to accomplish it.
  • Milestone Section: Expand upon the relevant steps and milestones needed to accomplish this goal. This may be where you document specific measurable outcomes and deadlines to keep you on track towards meeting expectations.
  • Exceeding Expectations Section: List some of the ways you or your employee might exceed the expectations of the goal (documented in the description and milestone sections). By including what exceeding expectations may look like, you are setting your employee or yourself up for a clear path towards success and fewer surprises during the annual review.

Then, copy and paste what you put in this worksheet into your employee's Full Cycle Appraisal Tool!

Other goal-setting resources include: