I’m currently revamping performance objectives and would like some guidance. Do you have any helpful tips?
I’m looking for ideas/guidelines on structure, content and level of detail.
:idea: This would probably be best addressed by “Micro-Mike” rather than “High-level-Horstman” :idea:

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

BLUF - Those of us are new would benefit from seeing samples from those of us who are experienced.

Wouldn't it be great to see samples of what others are doing / using? When you're just getting started, or trying to get a new start, this kind of real-world practical information is very hard to find.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Well, I guess good luck with that. And to think that I had some.



hchan's picture

I'd like to share my experience, and look forward to everyone's comments and suggestions. (My key SF strengths is Learner... so I am looking to learn here...)

At my company, we have to write our own performance objectives and reviews, and I had struggled with the concept at first, but after a few years of using and tweaking, it has really grown on me.

Basically, at the beginning of each year, each employee needs to set their goals in at least three areas: Financial, Customer Service/Innovation, and Leadership/Personal Development. They recommend having 3 goals or so in each area, but there isn't any hard and fast rule. One year I had 40+ goals (too many...)

I have found that the key to this is that it is a tool to align the vision and expectation between managers and their direct. So the effectiveness of the method, as well as the quality and success rate of the goals, is directly dependent on how it is used during One-on-Ones.

For the last couple of years, I have set aside some time during O3s every month or so to review the progress of the performance goals (we call it PDRs-- Personal Development Review).

As a manager, it helps me set clear expectations with my directs. Usually the first 3 months are spent writing and rewriting their goals. My new directs usually need more hand-holding, so I share my PDRs with them as samples, and we discuss some possible goals for them. Then as a homework, they write their own goals which we review in the following O3. I then give them my feedback. We usually agree on goals without too much problems. Sometimes I tone down their goals, sometimes I raise them.

I have a flexible approach to these goals. We add to them, or revise them along the way throughout the year. I sometime tell my direct to stop working on some goals and spend their time on something else when situation changes, or when we hit a brick wall. I am not quite sure whether this is the absolute right thing to do. It is difficult to balance.

My directs love and hate having to do their PDRs. Hate them because they have to prepare and think about it every month. But they usually thank me when the annual review time comes, because their accomplishments are very clear. They also like it that I take the responsibilities if we agree that they should abandon a particular goal.

With my supervisor, I use my PDR as a way to ensure that he is aware of what I see as my priorities, and is also aware of the big challenges I face in trying to achieve some of his visions.

OK... a very long first post. I hope it makes sense. Any feedback or suggestions are appreciated.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Good system. Well done. The real key of it all is ensuring progress is made throughout the year. Starts and finishes are drameatic...but the miles in between are necessary to connect them.

Poor management focuses on events. Smart management focuses on progress.


lazerus's picture


[i]~~~~Off topic~~~~
[color=darkblue]May I share someting with you, mattgreenia?
{I assume you say "sure"}

When you ask for advice in the forum, and suggest that Mike would better address yor issue than Mark, here's what happens:

THe rest of us don't get the benefit of Mark's sage wisdom and practical tools for managing. Your question is REALLY important to me and applies to my work and what I'm looking at on Monday morning. I love that you asked about it. AND I look forward to all the responses. Especially yours, since you asked the question. The results you get from using the tools presented here add value to all of our experience, and as a group we get better and better.

Thanks for listening to me, I hope I'm not stepping on toes.

Welcome to the M-T forums, BTW!
[i]~~~~On topic~~~~[/i]

On progress: I am responsible for measuring performance progress and am held accountable for that. Some of the measures I use are productivity based, such as total output, output per machine or person, error rate, etc. Other measures (which are difficult but not impossible to quantify) are employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, internal and external. I expect revenue and profit growth should naturally follow these things, as long as external forces remain constant. External forces might include vendor prices changes, cost of production (transportation costs, overhead, labor market forces, etc.).

Perhaps ask your boss what it is they want you to measure.

attmonk's picture

Anyone got anything to add to this. I'm looking to create some goals, objectives, targets etc and am strugging with how to capture what I need and how to put it in writing.
I want to develop something meaningfull for the people who will have to deliver it, my first thought is to come up with a lot of what we need in my O3's with my directs but I need some of my own to build off of.

Now that we have had some great feedback from lazerus to matgreenia (who I'm sure has realised his error) how about posting those thoughts Mark?

jhack's picture

Try breaking down progress into categories of behavior:

technical skills (welding techniques, coding, subtlety of bernaise sauce...),
project management (planning, reporting, ...),
interpersonal (handling conflict, engaging new employees, ...),
leadership (articulates strategy cogently, is desired as a presenter,...)
negotiation ....
customer service...

Think about the major dimensions of the job. It might vary (not everyone is a project manager) but you end up with a nice matrix of jobs x behavior. Some of the behaviors might be metrics (ie, number of widgets built per week).

The other nice thing about this framework is that you can define behaviors that characterize adequate, good and excellent performance, and folks can see clearly what they must do to get promoted since they can see what the next level job requires of them, as well. As an example, to go from programmer to engineer, you'll see that an engineer not only writes solid code, but that their designs are well documented and are reusable. It shows the programmer what skills they need to work on.

US41's picture

A system I was introduced to by my manager that I think is pretty clever is Preserve, Obtain, Avoid, Correct.

Think of the key areas your team performs in, and then think of those things they do you want to keep doing, those things you wish you did, those things you know are out there that you never want to start doing, and the things you are doing that you wish would stop.

This gives you a matrix to work with in terms of coming up with specific examples (either you or the employee).

I have had very poor experiences in the past with attempting to have employees set their own objectives for improvement. Probably I am the wrong person to guide people through such a process, because I know what I want them to work on, and I'm usually disappointed by the low expectations others have of themselves. I imagine there is something to it I don't know. I have done zero reading on setting objectives.

One thing I do with my employees is I have a running list of them in order of their value to us in each of their four areas of performance. I was once cornered by C-level to name my top people, and I was able to do it. His eyebrows went up and he asked how I knew it that quickly.

I basically made a list of my employees in XL, made a column for each of three key areas plus a fourth for "management potential."

Then I scored them from 1 to 4.

1= think they are great but they are clueless (dangerous/direct)
2= they are self-aware of their cluelessness and working on it (depressed/coach)
3= they get it, but it requires great effort - sometimes they slip a little (blossoming/support)
4= top gun - able to perform without thinking (rock star/delegate)

(taken from Kevin Blanchard's Situational Leadership book where he describes the four phases of employee development)

I then add up the scores to the right and then sort the list by where I have them. I can total up the columns and see where we are weaker and stronger. It helps me with hiring people - do I target technical or people skills next time, etc. It also helps me see performance as each monthly snapshot shows my department's total value metric number going up.

I drop this list into my quarterly and annual reports on myself to show my ability to build a team and I highlight variances from previous snapshots in the past.

It really isn't objectives, but at any time I can name the three people I would lay off if asked, and I can also name my top 5 performers at the drop of a hat, in order of their performance.

The first time I did it I was surprised to see them line up in a different order than I had mentally lined them up without doing this exercise.

Not exactly what mattgreenia was asking for, but maybe something interesting to try out?

barksand's picture

I read with interest all the posts on this subject.

I'm new to a very senior management role and am just formulating my plans to return a company to profitability, so setting both business and personal objectives is top of my agenda right now.

I'm confused though - surely asking your directs what they want to achieve during the coming year is a little back to front isn't it?

Won't they think we have no idea what we are doing and so will lose all faith and respect for management?

bug_girl's picture

I found asking directs what they want to accomplish during the year to be useful simply because by me asking *them* what they want to achieve, I know right away if I am being clear in my expectations.

If there is a significant difference between what *I* think is a priority, and what my direct thinks is a priority, that is a flag that something isn't right somewhere.

It also lets Hi Ds feel like they are steering, involves high C in the process, and with an I or an S we can have a heart to heart.  :)


jhack's picture

 Do you lose faith in leaders who ask you for input?  If not, why would they? 

If your goal for them aligns with their goals, that tells you something important about their self-awareness.  It also makes it easy for you to set goals: you give them one they want, and you also give them one YOU want.  

And if they want to achieve something not aligned with the firm's goals, you don't have to go along.  You've learned something about this person, and you can still set the goals the firm needs.  And  you've learned that the team needs better alignment with the firm's goals.  

John Hack