How to reach an agreement on the Employee Performance Objectives
The most common form of employee performance appraisal is management by objectives, in which employees and their managers set goals together for the upcoming period and then measure the degree to which the employee achieved the goals.
This method provides unambiguous criteria that are less susceptible to personal biases. However, if improperly managed it also can lead to a mentality of “results at any cost” or not reflect on-the-job problem solving.
A management by objectives is centred to what is being produced and delivered, rather than on what tasks have been performed. Therefore it leaves a margin of responsibility to the employee to plan how to produce the expected outputs and achieve the project objectives. However the "how" to achieve should be consistent with the organizational culture and with the basic requirement of fostering a healthy communication climate.
Performance objectives are not invented. It is not possible for the employee to decide what s/he has to do to earn her salary! Nor can the manager establish arbitrary what the employee has to do. Project objectives are deduced from:
- The job profile for which the employee was hired (and that determines the pay scale)
- The objectives of the project / programme to which the employee is expected to contribute as a team member by undertaking of specific tasks;
- The communication climate of the team;
- The overall working style and the organizational culture of which the employee is a human resource.
- So when an employee and her/his manger agree on the performance objectives means that they sustain each other interpretation of the 4 determinants of the employee performance objectives.
Agreeing on the objectives means to make sure that the employee and the managers have the same expectation about what the employee should achieve. That becomes what the rest of the team will rightfully expect from the employee, both in terms of quantity and quality of deliverables and other concrete outputs.
SMART Objectives are:
- Specific (to the person and her/his specific tasks);
- Measurable (the criteria are set on how the performance will be reviewed);
- Achievable (the persons have enough resources, skills, knowledge, and time);
- Relevant (objectives must relate to job profile and programme/projects plans);
- and once agreed must be articulated in Time-related shedules (realistic dates are set for the delivery of expected outputs).
- As an employee proposing the objectives to your manager remember to:
- review your job profile;
- consult organization manuals and standard procedures;
- understand well the organizational culture of your organization and the communication climate of your team;
- read the project / programme at which you are expected to contribute
- make your performance objectives consistent with the project / programme to which you are expected to contribute as a team member;
- list out all deliverables expected from you according to your job profile and the project / programme at which you are working;
- relate the "what" you will achieve (the objectives) with the "how" you will do it (the list of deliverables and other concrete outputs expected by you.
- be concrete not vague: do not say "contribute", "support" etcetera (impossible to measure) ; say "produce this", "review this", "approve that", "evaluate that", etc. (so it will possible to verify if you have done it.)
- Do not include in your performance objectives the results of team work but only what the team can expect from you as your specific contribution to the team work.
- do not try to impress your manager by adding other extra objectives or by gold plating your promises: give commitments only for what you the others can count upon (you will eventually try to put extra quality in what you do but never put extra activities or extra objectives).
- resist to any attempt by your manager to give you too many or too vague objectives.
- relate what you are planning to do with plans on how to develop your existing skills, knowledge, or ways of working.
As a manager you have one objective related to the performance management of your manages. As an manager proposing the objectives to your managee remember to:
- refer to organization manuals and standard procedures;
- understand the cultural background of the employee and the experience within the organization,
- consider the capacity of the rest of the team and its specific existing communication climate
- review the project / programme at which you your managee is expected to contribute
- understand what will motivate your managee to perform at her best.
- assign performance objectives consistent with the project / programme to which your managee is expected to contribute as a team member
- clearly assign tasks and explain them.
- clearly identify all the task outputs that your managee is expected to deliver to the rest of the team;
- relate the "what" you expect your managee to achieve (the objectives) with the "how" s/he will do it (the list of deliverables and other concrete expected outputs )
- be concrete not vague: do not say "contribute", "support" etcetera ; say "produce", "review", "approve", "evaluate", etc. (so it will possible to verify if it was done)
- do not include in the expected performance the outcomes of team work but only what the team can expect from your managee as your contribution to the team work.
- never assign too many or too difficult objectives;
- do not assign objectives and tasks for witch you will forgo an eventual unsatisfactory performance (if objectives are not essential they should not be listed; if they are essential their failure should not pass unnoticed);
- resist to any attempt by your managee to make too many promises or gold plate them;
- do not burden unevenly the team members but share equally work load and goodies;
- understand how to develop the existing skills and knowledge of your managee, so that s/he can perform satisfactory,
- motivate your managee to work with enthusiasm.
Agreed performance objectives will form the basis for planning the employee activities and for reviewing the employee performance.