Best Practice: Goal Cards

Excellence Award winner UTMC’s low-tech integration tool yields high results

In February, The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) accepted its first TNCPE Excellence Award. The academic medical center earned this recognition, in part, for its world-class strategic planning model—a model that TNCPE examiners identified as fully integrated within each of UTMC’s key systems.

TNCPE’s examiners determined that every person and every activity at UTMC is tied directly to the organization’s plan to be successful and stay competitive. Considering UTMC is a 2.6 million-square-foot facility that employs 4,500 team members, this is no small feat.

One strategic planning tactic that UTMC uses to get everyone on board is the use of annual Personal Goal Cards. They’re simple and low tech, but very effective.


Each year, senior leadership updates UTMC’s strategic goals, which are then printed on a Goal Card. The card includes UTMC’s Leadership System diagram, a table of UTMC key goals divided by the UTMC Priorities (Quality/Safety, Service, Efficiency/Effectiveness), and space where the team member writes down personal goals and performance notes. Team members’ goals are linked directly to the organization’s corporate strategy.

Once filled in, the cards are signed by both the employee and his or her supervisor, then slipped behind the team member’s identification badge.

"When we started our performance improvement journey, team members didn’t see a lot about strategy," said Cathy Kerby. Kerby is UTMC’s Magnet Program Director. She co-led the hospital's TNCPE journey with Janell Cecil, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “Now everyone has a tool that allows them to speak to our key priorities and relate personal goals to organizational goals.”


Having goals within reach literally pays off, as they play a key role in UTMC's performance evaluation process (Pay for Performance or "PFP"), as well as the use of balanced score cards (for those in select leadership positions). At the end of the PFP cycle, team members are financially compensated if they successfully focus efforts on their goal card objectives, and achieve full or greater performance of required job standards. 

Personal Goal Cards are just one tactic in UTMC’s highly developed strategic planning process, but they illustrate how something simple can have tremendous reach.

"Goal Cards connect everyone to our strategic objectives,” Kerby said. “Everybody in this building has a service goal. Everybody wants to run a safe hospital. Goal Cards identify the steps we need to take individually, and show us how those steps make a positive difference to the whole organization.”

Click images for closer view 
Top: Front of UTMC Personal Goal Card
Bottom: Back of UTMC Personal Goal Card


TNCPE is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

2525 Perimeter Place Drive, Suite 122. Nashville, TN 37214-3773. (800)453-6474.