Guidelines for Setting Goals and Objectives

Guidelines for Setting Goals and Objectives

Goal setting sets the stage for the start of the performance development process. Goals are set on a macro level (divisional and departmental basis), as well as with teams or individuals. These goals should be reviewed throughout the year to assess their status. The Performance Development Program at Wellesley College suggests that Division and Departmental Goals be shared with employees within the areas they work. With these goals in hand, employees and managers can work together to develop individual goals for the year ahead. By setting individual goals, employees are able to see more clearly how their individual role and performance contributes to the overall mission of Wellesley College.

The role document, which includes the competencies and skills required for the position, together with annual goals, provides the foundation for effective ongoing performance discussions.

Step One: Gathering Data

Data to set goals at Wellesley College can be gathered by reviewing the college mission, the short and longer-term goals set by the division or department, and reviewing the budgets, staffing, skills required to achieving them. They should be arranged in order of largest to smallest, identifying divisions, departments, and individuals who are accountable for each.

Step Two: Development of Major Goals (1-3 only)

Using the information gathered above, the goal should be described in one to two sentences. The overall schedule for accomplishing and completing this goal should be described. Include in this a description of the tools and resources which will be used to achieve the goal (the how). This helps develop the individual goals of the various people who will be involved and accountable for the result. Be sure and be clear where the final accountability rests. Describe the expected results – how do you know when it is done? Be as specific as possible.

Step Three: Development of Employee’s Objectives in Support of Major Goals

Setting individual goals is not the same as a task list. However, if there are specific tasks, which are important to this role and are not outlined in the current role document, they should be described. Determine what two to three objectives/projects the employee must complete in order to achieve this goal. Note the schedule and completion date as well as the tools and resources required to complete this. If the employee has the final accountability for this, it should be stated; if not, list the departments or others who are critical to the success of this goal. Describe the outcome expected for each goal.

Please note: Setting goals should be a joint process between manager and employee. Goals might include acquiring a new skill or developing/improving their performance in certain competency areas. Goals generally change from year to year based on the departmental goals.

Additional Hints about Goals

Definition: Goals are statements describing what organizations, departments, or individuals wish to accomplish. When goals are well developed, they answer the what, why, who, where, when and how questions.

Why Set Goals?

By setting specific targets/desired outcomes, individuals and organizations are able

to define priorities
to establish direction
to identify expected results
to enhance teamwork
to improve individual performance
to clarify expectations
All roles are affected by internal changes in organizational structure and the way work is organized as well as by external changes driven by innovation, technology, and a changing workforce. There are always new things to be done and more effective and efficient ways to accomplish work. Goals can focus on continuous learning and improvement as it applies to the role.

Value of Goal Setting

Research on goal setting tells us the following:

People and organizations who set goals do better than those who do not
People who set specific goals do better than those who set vague goals
Difficult goals, if accepted, result in better performance
Success in goal attainment is related to deliberate and conscious goal-setting
High expectations of success are associated with high attainment and performance
Characteristics of Well-Set Goals

Meaningful and Measurable
Agreed to and Attainable
Please note: If you need assistance in the goal setting process, please contact the Human Resource office. We would be happy to assist you in this process.


HR values and respects confidentiality.