Published: Feb. 14, 2019

Success in any area, including performance management depends on designing an effective goal-setting strategy. By developing a clear picture of exactly what you hope to accomplish and determining what specific actions you need to accomplish it, you can more easily tell when you've succeeded in reaching your goal.  

Setting your employees up for success

When creating a performance plan with an employee it is equally important to use a consistent goal-setting strategy in order to provide explicit work expectations. One such strategy is the SMART goal method.


SMART is an acronym used to ensure that goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely:

  • Specific: Be straightforward and specific in your description. Specificity provides greater impact and increases the likelihood of accomplishment.
  • Measurable: Establishing concrete, objective criteria for measurement helps create benchmarks for achievements. Set these measurements to help with tracking progress.
  • Actionable: Divide your efforts into smaller, subjective measurements to help make them more attainable.
  • Relevant: Tie these to success in a specific area and weight the relative importance of each. This will help ensure appropriate prioritization and facilitate achievement.
  • Timely: Specify a time frame for achievement to provide a target to work towards. Without a completion date, progress may become vague and commitment may waiver.

Cornerstone Performance Management Software

For those using the Cornerstone Performance Management system, there is a Wizard function that guides the user through the SMART goal method during the creation of an employee’s performance plan; more specifically, employee goals, job duties, and competencies.  

When a user clicks the “Create” button on the “My Performance Plan” page, the Wizard function button will be displayed in the upper right-hand corner. Though this Wizard function is optional, the SMART method is a highly recommended strategy to optimize an employee’s performance. The elements in the SMART method can be found in each step of the Wizard function.