The importance of employee objectives

Performance management is much more than just an annual review.

To get the very best out of your employees, it is important for all employers to carry out an ongoing process of monitoring and regularly assessing performance.

A vital component to performance management is setting each and every employee some objectives.

When setting objectives, you should use the SMART acronym to make sure that the objectives are:

  • Specific – What exactly is the desired outcome?
  • Measurable – How can you ascertain whether the objective has been met?
  • Achievable – Is the employee capable of achieving this goal?
  • Relevant – Does the objective align with your overall business goals? How do they relate to those in their team?
  • Timely – When does it need to be achieved by?

Don’t treat objectives as a tick-box exercise

Employee objectives should have real value, not just be considered a chore. By setting these goals, the employee should understand what is expected from them, what they should be striving to achieve and how they are contributing to wider goals.

You want their objectives to align with your organisation’s strategy and vision for the future. For example, if your organisation is trying to increase customer satisfaction by 20% over the next 12 months, you may set your receptionist the objective of answering all clients’ calls within three rings and answering emails within four hours.

As well as the organisation’s goals, it is beneficial to think about the employee’s career progression. Getting their input on how they want to develop not only helps elevate their performance, but it can boost their engagement and loyalty to you.

The objectives can be stretching or challenging, but make sure they are also realistic. If they are too hard or too easy, this can make the employee lose motivation. You need to think about whether they need any training, mentoring or other types of support or resources to help them achieve the objectives set.

Finally, the objectives shouldn’t be gathering dust – they should be kept under review and there should be clear targets and completion dates to see what has been achieved and what hasn’t. Remember that the objectives should be flexible as they may need to be amended, for instance, certain projects may have cropped up, others may be pushed to the back burner or there have been changes within the team or organisation.

But what if performance isn’t measurable?

In many cases, it may be easy to see if the employee is hitting their objectives, but in others, it is far from straightforward. Where it is tricky to measure performance you could consider giving the employee a score based on behaviours or competences, for example, communication, teamwork or problem solving.

If you would like to discuss your employees’ performance issues, contact your Employment Law Adviser who can guide you.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

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