What are Improvement Goals, Indicators & Targets?

You may be feeling a bit impatient with these “minor” distinctions. (Are you thinking, “What’s the big deal!”)  Getting clarity about these seemingly minor differences, keeps different evaluation team members from getting confused as they discuss and plan, but more than that, nailing down each of these steps WILL actually help you increase what you want to improve more and faster than you can without all these pieces. It IS worth the time we’re taking now.

A GOAL is longer=term, perhaps 2-4 years away. Writing these is the task in this step.

A TARGET is like an objective. It is an annual step to try and finish or reach which will deliver progress toward the goal. Writing these is the next step after this one.

Write improvement goals, making sure that each goal:

  • Is attainable within 2-4 years;
  • Is measurable (observable) using the indicators which were targeted for improvement in step #10 above;
  • Describes when you expect to achieve the goal;

Example Improvement Goal

Indicators are specific measures of achievement, or accomplishment of steps, etc. Focus on indicators because they are concrete and measures oof progress which we will accept. Examples of indicators (or measures) are:

  • The score of a middle manager on an assessment of leadership competencies. That score is a meaningful indicator of degree of competence.
  • The score on a rubric with several qualities that describe levels of performance.
  • The score on a written test of mathematics knowledge.

Targets are the level of an indicator that will “indicate” you are successful enough to be satisfied. Targets define the level of implementation or achievement you want to reach – how much is good enough.

Targets are important because you want to be able eventually to demonstrate that you have improved your program, and that your program has provided mentoring that accomplished or at least is delivering progress toward achieving your program’s goals.

In other words, you’d like to be able to say something like this  –

“Those proteges who were mentored this year showed an 18% average increase on the scale of employee performance. This performance improvement exceeded the program’s  15% per year expectation for protege improvement by 3% for one year, and that suggests that all our proteges will exceed the program goal of 90% of new employees receiving level two certification within 3 years.  The proteges’ score was 58% greater progress than showed by the non mentored new employees.”

In that example:

  • The GOAL = “90% of mentored new hires will receive level 2 certificates in 3 years.”
  • The indicator or measure was the “scale of employee performance”.
  • The target was “the program’s  15% a year expectation for protege improvement”.

Another way of saying this would be, “Proteges exceeded by 3% the annual target (15%) for professional growth, as measured by the scale of employee performance, and seem poised to all meet the program goal of 90% of proteges receiving level 2 certificates within 3 years.”