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The Key to Successful Performance Objectives
By Josh Greenberg

Summary: Doing Performance appraisals without having clear objectives set in advance is a recipe for disagreement, argument and poor morale. Learn how to set performance objectives properly - Get SMART.

Have you ever tried to drive somewhere without proper directions? This almost always turns out to be a frustrating experience. Sure, if you stop and ask enough people you may eventually reach your target destination, but think of all the wasted energy, time, and resources needed to accomplish your goal.

Let's take this concept and move it to the realm of managing a business. Does it make sense to expect your employees to reach a goal or strategic objective without providing them a road map of where they are headed? This is the reason clear and detailed employee performance objectives play a crucial role in helping companies perform to their business plan and achieve their strategic goals.

Performance objectives establish how your business plan will be achieved. Performance objectives also play a major role in defining the end results expected through your staff's hard work and dedication. Performance objectives are a necessity in setting clear goals for employees. They also challenge staff members to achieve maximum results to promote business growth and make continuous improvements to meet the challenges and changing demands of the marketplace. Performance objectives must be clear and guide action.

Now that we understand the importance of clear performance objectives, lets investigate the criteria of a well documented performance objective.

Criteria of a Successful Performance Objective:

What specifically is to be achieved? Not just what actions are to be performed, but what results are to be achieved through these actions? Keeping objectives simple ensures they are clear and specific. This also reduces the chance for disputes or confusion come performance appraisal time. Complex objectives should be broken into sub-objectives. This allows individuals to focus their efforts and guides them in marshaling the resources necessary to achieve results.


How will you know how well an objective has been achieved? Although it may not be readily apparent, every object can be measured. Some objectives can be measured quantitatively; others must be measured qualitatively. What data will be used to measure/track what is achieved and is that data available to provide ongoing feedback on how the employee is doing? Measurements are subject to change and should be reviewed periodically.

Accountability for performance objectives must be crystal clear and must specifically state who is accountable. The more detail the better. A clear definition of what he or she is specifically accountable for will help reduce confusion come performance appraisal time. Defining accountability will ensure a sense of urgency and purpose on the part of the employee.


For an objective to be meaningful, it must be realistic and reasonable. A well written performance objective focuses on the goals and objectives required to meet the objective. In highly efficient organizations, performance objectives ultimately link back to the company's overall strategy and business plan. Objectives should challenge employees towards continuous improvement, but should not be unrealistic or unattainable.

Time based
An achievable time frame must be set for reaching the objective's goals. Consider assigning specific target dates not only for the performance objective itself, but also each lesser milestone linking the entire goal. Remember to be specific towards achieving results and guide action in a results oriented ways towards the objective.

Strategically Linked
Every performance objective must always be linked to the overall business plan and over-arching strategy of the organization. Well thought out performance objectives create a link between the direction of each individual employee which also align upstream through departments and divisions to unify the goals of the entire organization.

This article may be reprinted provided it is published in its entirety, includes the author bio information, and all links remain active.

2004 ? AlphaMeasure, Inc. - All Rights Reserved

Josh Greenberg is President of AlphaMeasure, Inc. located in Boulder, Colorado. AlphaMeasure provides organizations of all sizes a powerful web based method for measuring employee satisfaction, determining employee engagement, and increasing employee retention.

The AlphaMeasure Employee Survey System is fully-customizable and allows you to target the organizational topics and challenges facing your staff today. Designed by HR professionals from the ground up, the AlphaMeasure Employee Satisfaction Survey System provides an affordable, feature rich solution for deploying fully-customized employee satisfaction or employee engagement surveys.

Click here to learn more about the AlphaMeasure Employee Survey System.


About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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