Managers: How to Set Performance Objectives


Performance objectives are the hallmarks of an employee’s position, giving him the blueprint to follow in order to achieve a certain level of success in the workplace. These objectives are generally provided and discussed at the annual performance review meeting and offer the employee a clear vision of where you both see his position going.

Setting performance objectives not only involves determining the career path of the employee in a particular position, but also how that lines up with the overall goal of the department and company in general.

To start, you have to figure out what you need from a certain position. For example, if the position in question is sales-based, then the performance objectives would be around increases in sales throughout the year as well as on a year-over-year basis. The idea is to take the position and maximize its full potential, as well as that of the employee. So, to start, determine what you need from the position both in the short and long term.

Then, set small goals leading up to the larger objective. For example, if the overall performance objective is to increase sales 40 percent over last year, then break that down incrementally and give the employee four, 10 percent goal increases over the course of the year to meet the larger objective.

Draft everything in writing so the employee has a clear path of what the performance objectives are. Provide a copy of all objectives with their annual review and be clear about both the rewards and consequences (if there are any) for meeting or not meeting objectives. Because performance objectives are based on the needs of individual companies, there have to be parameters in place to guide the process so the employee also understands and adheres to plans to reach said objectives.

Provide help along the way, maintaining an open door policy for your employee. Give him the resources to meet each objective and, if he gets stuck, offer to help him through any roadblocks.

Stress the importance of performance objectives to your employees, but not in a way that puts an exorbitant amount of pressure on them. Provide the resources and all of the assistance they need to make meeting these objectives a successful endeavor.
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