Process Goal: Definition, Benefits and When To Use

There are several types of goals professionals set in the workplace to help them develop skills in their careers. One of these is a process goal, which focuses on small measurable steps to achieve bigger objectives. Learning about this type of goal can help you understand how this can help you in your career development and assist your company in achieving its business goals.

In this article, we provide the definition of a process goal and share key elements of this concept, including how it differs from an outcome goal.

What is a process goal?

Process goals are milestones that comprise smaller, controlled accomplishments that help you achieve a larger objective. These goals are often controllable, and the probability of their fulfillment tends to be high. Examples of process goals include:

  • Spend 30 minutes a day checking emails.
  • Write a to-do list every morning.
  • Delegate two tasks a week.
  • Take one development class a month.
  • Work 10 hours of overtime each week.
  • Ensure each newsletter includes a call to action.

What is an outcome goal?

An outcome goal is a larger, long-term goal that requires process goals to be successful. Outcome goals are often partially within your control, as variables and unforeseen circumstances may affect their completion. Using process goals may help increase the probability of their success.

Examples of outcome goals include:

  • Finish writing documentation.
  • Earn a project management certification.
  • Hire a new employee.
  • Earn a promotion.
  • Increase revenue.

Process goal vs. outcome goal

There are a few key differences between process goals and outcome goals, including:

Long-term vs. short-term outlook

One of the main differences between process and outcome goals is the amount of time necessary to accomplish them. You may achieve process goals immediately or in a short amount of time. Outcome goals often require extensive preparation and time before you may complete them.

Controlled vs. uncontrolled

Often, you have the ability to control whether you complete process goals. These are usually simple tasks that require less effort to complete, making the risk of fulfillment higher than outcome goals. Outcome goals may be more susceptible to changes or barriers due to the complexity and amount of time necessary to achieve them, making their probability of fulfillment slightly lower than process goals.

When should you use process goals?

Understanding when to use process goals may help you more effectively apply them to your career. Professional situations in which you may benefit from process goals include:

When the outcome is difficult to define

One of the most common scenarios in which using process goals may be beneficial is when the outcome goal is vague or difficult to define. Thinking of process goals that may help you achieve your outcome could help you more accurately specify and communicate your outcome goals to your team members, supervisors or important decision-makers. Having a specific outcome goal may increase the chances of its completion and could help to align the expectations of the individuals involved.

When you’re developing your plan

Another great way to use process goals in the workplace is when you’re developing a plan of action to achieve an outcome goal. You may use process goals to prioritize tasks and make informed decisions about how to best accomplish your outcome. When thinking of process goals, it may be helpful to use the SMART acronym to ensure your goals are beneficial to the outcome. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based
When the outcome goal is complex

When your outcome goal is complex or has several components, you may use process goals to better understand your plan of action. Consider categorizing your outcome goal into smaller portions and assigning process goals that best suit each portion’s needs.

For example, if your outcome goal is to increase revenue, you may categorize it into the following portions:

  • Customer outreach
  • Brand awareness
  • Direct marketing
  • Client management
  • Advertising

Then, you can assign process goals to each of those categories to pursue the outcome goal of increasing revenue.

Benefits of process goals

There are several benefits of using process goals to achieve your objectives, including:

Provides motivation

Process goals are a great way to motivate yourself to continue pursuing outcome goals. Each small task may provide you with a sense of accomplishment, which could improve your morale and encourage you to continue toward your ultimate objective. Process goals are also a great way to set specific, measurable and achievable goals for yourself. When you understand exactly what you need to accomplish and how to measure your success, you may be more effective in your efforts. In this workplace, this can help you to be more productive, maintain a positive attitude and impress your supervisors and coworkers.

Increases probability of fulfilling outcome goals

Process goals may help you organize your efforts and gradually work toward fulfilling outcome goals. Outcome goals on their own may have a slightly lower chance of completion, but when you use process goals to slowly achieve your ultimate objectives, focus your efforts and maintain motivation, you may increase the probability of achieving your outcome goals. In the workplace, this may help you to enhance job performance, continually advance your skills and develop long-term habits that contribute to your success.

Helps prioritize tasks

Process goals are a great way to understand which tasks are critical to outcome goal completion and help you prioritize. Understanding which process goals are most important toward achieving your outcome goal can help you make informed decisions about where to focus your efforts. Throughout your career, this may help improve your time-management process, increase efficiency and maximize your results.

Encourages focus

Having clearly defined, achievable tasks may help you maintain focus and avoid distraction. When you understand the tasks you should focus on, in which order and how they contribute to your outcome goal, it may be easier to stay focused on each individual task. In your professional life, this may help you maximize your workday, increase productivity and could minimize the amount of time needed for each task. Maintaining focus and speeding the completion of your process goals may allow you to take on more responsibilities or complete other important tasks.

Promotes long-term results

Process goals may be a great way to develop long-term goals and maintain optimal results, even after you’ve achieved your outcome goal. This may help you develop productive workplace habits, discover processes that work best for your style of work and discover innovative ways to maximize your skills. As you complete certain process goals, you can replace them with new ones to continuously develop.

Process goal example

Here’s an example you can use when setting your own process goals:

Tonya wants to earn a management position in marketing at her company. She sets her process goals to achieve this:

  • Read one chapter in a leadership book a week.
  • Ask two questions on a marketing professionals forum a week.
  • Attend one conference a month.
  • Volunteer to train employees twice a month.
  • Apply for one position each week.

This article was written by, an American worldwide employment website for job listings launched in November 2004. It is a subsidiary of Japan’s Recruit Holdings and is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and Stamford, Connecticut, with additional offices around the world.

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