Well-written employee performance objectives are critical, yet elusive for many companies. Having clear performance objectives affords advantages to your startup:
- They help align employee performance with the business strategy
- They clarify the specific expectations the startup has of its employees, and what will be measured. This facilitates the performance review process
- They enable both employees and the startup to easily monitor progress and adjust as required to be successful
Defining good performance objectives
There is a simple approach to define good performance objectives. The key lies in remembering the acronym SMART. Each letter reminds you of an important element when creating objectives:
Specific: Set clear expectations—as specific as possible. This keeps people focused on exactly what you need from them.
Measurable: Make items as quantifiable as you can. If the objective can be defined using numbers, do so. If not, establish as many defining parameters as possible.
Achievable: Determine how you’re going to accomplish the goal, as the end does not always justify the means.
Realistic: Ensure that the expectations are reasonable and within the employee’s area of control. This will keep employees motivated and avoid frustration and disillusionment, which generally leads to failure.
Time-based: Fix timelines for each goal. This keeps staff focused.
Example: Strategic performance objective
A loosely defined, ineffective objective might be worded as “close more files by next year.”
In contrast, a clear strategic objective would state: “By March 31, 2015 we will increase by 15% the number of help-desk work orders closed within 24 hours. This is to be achieved by hiring and training a new help-desk representative, and by using a budget of $100,000 to select and implement a more efficient tracking system.”
Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review, 70(11), 35-36.