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Employee Goal-Setting Questions and Strategies for Managers


Last Updated:  

6 May 2024

4 min read

Need to help employees set and manage goals, but unsure where to begin? In this article, we give you a clear, easy-to-follow employee goal-setting framework for setting smart goals that are aligned with your company’s goals, priorities, and mission.

Gain clarity on your team’s goals and your organization’s overall business goals

First, you create bigger-picture goals that would help accomplish the company’s goals. For this, you need to get clear on what’s the overall business goal. And how you and your team could help achieve this goal? 

Talk to the company’s stakeholders and higher-ups before you set the bigger-picture goals you need to hit. Then, now that you’re clear on the bigger-picture goals, you tie each individual employee’s goals to your bigger-picture goals.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What business goal is our organization as a whole working towards?
  • What are the main objectives of our company this quarter?
  • How does this individual team member’s goals and responsibilities fit into our team and organizational goals?
  • What are the goals my team is working towards?
  • What are the company’s long-term objectives?

Discover your employees’ strengths

As a manager, one of the most important aspects of your job is to set goals that play to your employees’ strengths. 

Sit on a call with your employees and have an open conversation about the role they’d like to play within the team. make them reflect on their strengths. 

What are the areas your team members are excited to explore? What are the skills they’d like to master over the coming months or years?

ThriveSparrow’s performance review software lets you spot your employees’ hidden strengths and weaknesses and lets you create a personal development plan easily.

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Here are a few questions to ask:

  • What motivates you the most at work?
  • How have you contributed to reaching your team’s objectives?
  • What is the one skill that is harder for you that you could work on?
  • How would you like to use your strengths in the future?
  • What are your career goals with the company?
  • Who do you want to be in 5 years?

You could also use tools like ThriveSparrow and other Medallia competitors to automatically track your employees’ performances, measure their growth index, and figure out areas that need improvement.

Collaborate with your employees to set SMART goals

Now that you’re clear about their strengths and the areas they would excel, it’s time to set goals for them. Set no more than three goals per employee. 

Find a balance between goals that impact the team’s objectives and the ones that develop their expertise.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What goals would you like to work towards?
  • Do you feel challenged by this goal?

Each goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.


Your goals need to be as clear and specific as possible. A specific goal helps employees understand the specific steps they’d need to achieve that goal.

Here are some questions to help you craft a specific goal:

  • What are you looking to accomplish?
  • Who is a part of this goal?
  • What are the steps to achieve this goal?
  • Why do you want to achieve this goal?
  • What do you need to achieve this goal?
  • What outcomes do you expect to make this a success? 


How do you know you’re making progress toward this goal? You need to define a criteria that indicates progress toward a particular goal.

Here are some questions to help you make your goal measurable:

  • How much of an improvement are you aiming for?
  • What key performance indicators will you track to measure its success?
  • Are you focused on the right key performance indicators for this goal?


Your goals should be high enough that they’re challenging to strive for, but low enough that they’re feasible with the current resources and time available.

Here are the questions to ask to make your goal achievable:

  • Is this goal realistic?
  • Do you have what you need to get it done?
  • How does this goal fit in with your overall workload?
  • Have others been able to achieve similar goals?
  • Are other team members available to help you if you need it?


A relevant goal aligns with your big-picture goals, but it is also worthwhile to the employee.

When determining the relevance, ask your employees:

  • Is this goal worthwhile to you?
  • How well does this goal align with our company’s mission?
  • Does this goal map to current business priorities?


Set clear target dates for hitting goals. A sense of urgency will motivate your employees hit their goals faster.

When keeping it time-based, here are the questions to ask:

  • What is the deadline for this goal?
  • Why is the deadline important?
  • Are there other initiatives hinging on the completion of this goal?

Examples of SMART goals

Here are two examples of SMART, employee goals:

  • Increase organic paid signups by 15% by the end of Q1.
  • Reduce call wait times by 10 percent over the next 6 months to improve customer service ratings.

Once your team members are clear about the goals they should pursue, create an action plan and delegate the tasks. 

Also, you need to have a conversation about what they would need to achieve their goals. Make sure they have all the resources and support they need to carry out their tasks.

Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to track progress

Have regular conversations with employees to help them set smaller action items and track their progress. Stay on top of how they’re progressing towards their goals and whether those goals need to be adjusted or changed.

Here are some questions to monitor employee goal progress:

  • The way things are, do you think you will be able to achieve your goal? why?
  • Do you need help identifying which actions could help you achieve your goals?
  • Do you need to gain more clarity on how your individual goals help us achieve goals as a team or company?
  • Are you bored or unchallenged at work? if so, would you like your goals to be revised so that they’re more challenging?
  • Do you think we should work together to revise your goals?

Final thoughts

A company makes real progress only when employees are working towards the right goals. Follow the employee goal-setting questions and the techniques listed in this article to help your employees set goals that move your company forward.

Here are some additional resources to improve employee performance:

How to improve employee performance

Evaluating employee performance: a quick guide

10 remote employee recognition ideas

30 techniques to boost employee performance in 2022 and beyond

60 performance review questions for employees and managers

Employee performance review: checklist, tips, and template for managers


I'm a developer turned marketer, working as a Product Marketer at SurveySparrow — A survey tool that lets anyone create beautiful, conversational surveys people love to answer.


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