Setting Great Performance Goals

Jennifer L'Estrange
November 30, 2016

Do you struggle to set performance goals that your organization understands?  Goals that create alignment to your overall business objectives? We’re not going to talk about SMART goals. Yes, the goals should be specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic, and time-bound, but you’ve read countless articles on that, so let’s focus on how you’re going to create a line of sight from your business strategy and objectives to the work that your people do on a daily basis. It really comes down to a few simple steps that are all about internal communications.

Start with documented overall business objectivesIt could be overall company growth, increase in profit, decrease in overhead expenses, etc. (Be specific, use SMART, and write it down…)

Sit down with your team and tell them. Surprisingly, this generally doesn’t happen, especially with smaller, privately held, companies where the business success is often tied to the owner’s perception of personal success.  It’s completely understandable, but the lack of transparency  limits your ability to communicate effectively to your people.

Ask them to write their goals and link them to the overall business objectives for the year.   This accomplishes two things.  Firstly, it verifies how well your organization understands the business objectives and their role in accomplishing company goals.  Secondly, it gets the work off your desk and onto theirs; workload aside, this means that they own the goals and feel more accountable to them throughout the year.

Review monthly. Regular follow up is key.  Depending on the size of the organization, it can be individually or in small teams, but a monthly checkpoint on performance against goals, starting with the overall company goals will keep everyone on track, allow you to address performance risks before they become issues and give you the opportunity to adapt the goals to changing business requirements, if needed.

Encourage transparency. This is so important, especially in small organizations, where everyone knows each other and what they do.  Encourage everyone to share their goals and achievements.  If someone is doing well, it gives everyone a chance to congratulate and celebrate their success.  If a team member is struggling, it gets the problem on the table and everyone can help find a workable solution.

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