If you’re an employer, you’ll always be aiming to get the best from your employees. This will involve making sure they can do their job to the best of their ability, and by ensuring they have the skills and tools to do so.
In order to do this, employees need to know what is required from them and know exactly what their performance will be measured against. This is why managers need to set their employees realistic and attainable objectives.
Objectives should be communicated to employees clearly, through regular performance meetings where they can be agreed by both parties. Whatever their nature, objectives should relate to the overall purpose of the job, the department, and link to the overall objectives of the organisation.
Ideally, objectives should be set in quantitative terms as it makes them easier to measure. For example, a production job could only be considered complete if it meets defined standards of accuracy or quality.
However, it is also important to consider how a job is performed. This is especially relevant when a job doesn’t necessarily have clearly identifiable outputs, such as in a creative industry.
How someone works should be measured against behaviours, competencies or capabilities. Wherever possible, managers should make objectives SMART:
Specific – The objective should clearly explain what, why, who, where, when and how. If the objective is too vague it will be difficult to define success.
Measurable – Progress must be able to be tracked and monitored and the employee should know when they achieve the objective.
Agreed – The objective must be relevant to and agreed with all relevant people.
Realistic – The objective should be challenging, but realistic. Actions required to achieve the objective should be within the control of the employee.
Time-bound – Objectives should have a deadline, and the employee should be aware of when they are likely to achieve an objective. Without a timescale it is easy for an objective to be left indefinitely.
Once objectives have been agreed and communicated with the employee, the manager should start to consider the next stage of the Performance Cycle – support.
It’s possible that the employee will need some coaching or training in order to meet their objectives. This should be offered as soon as possible – either when the objectives are set, or when it becomes apparent that it’s needed.