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A 5 Step Guide to Better Performance Objectives


As a manager, how can you ensure that your team members are focused on doing work to help drive the business forward? One effective, yet not so simple, way is by making sure performance objectives are in place. But just having performance goals for your employees isn’t enough – you need to have objectives that are carefully crafted for each individual.

By having goals, employees are able to plan and organize their work to achieve the results that are expected of them. Goals also tend to increase employee engagement and productivity, as it makes their work feel more important to the success of the business. Without business objectives in place, team members can feel disengaged from their jobs, which can cause numerous issues for managers.

Here are a few benefits of having well-crafted performance objectives:

  • Allows employees to understand what is expected of them
  • Enables managers to more readily observe, document, and coach
  • Provides employees with a way to self-measure
  • Helps employees develop job knowledge and skills to thrive in their careers
  • Provides tangible means of clarification if disagreements about work assignments arise
  • Allows for an accurate comparison of “what was done” to “what was expected”

When setting up work objectives, it is important to remember that goals are not meant to restate an employee’s job description. A job description identifies “what” you expect an employee to do.

Performance objectives define the level of performance you expect an employee to achieve in his or her role. By having clear and well-crafted performance objectives in place, you’ll help your employees achieve success in their roles.


Creating performance goals that enable success can be a challenge, luckily there are a few steps that can help managers when creating work objectives.

1) Share your business goals and measures of success

Each employee needs to understand how their work contributes to the company’s success and aligns with the organization’s vision, mission, and values. Each of their performance objectives should link to at least one business goal.

2) Set employees up for success

Assess and address potential stakeholders, resources, and capabilities – plus possible roadblocks – to help ensure a successful outcome for each performance objective.

3) Include different types of performance objectives and include key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure progress toward key goals

  • Routine Objectives: Based on tasks or assignments the employee is expected to do on a regular basis. These objectives are consistent from one appraisal period to the next, and are part of the employee’s day-to-day work process.
  • Project Objectives: Based on “special projects” to be completed, or meet a specific stage of completion, during the appraisal period.
  • Developmental Objectives: Chosen to enhance the employee’s performance and prepare the employee for future positions and growth within the organization.

4) Follow a general format

This format captures all the key elements of a well-crafted performance objective: “To do what, for whom, by what standard, by when, and under what conditions.”

5) Check performance objectives using the SMART technique

  • Specific: The objective describes an observable action, behavior, or achievement and explains the results achieved, rather than the actions taken to achieve it.
  • Measurable: The objective includes features to determine the outcome’s success
  • Achievable: The objective must be realistic, meaning the employee has the resources (skill, money, equipment, etc.) to get it done. The best objectives require employees to stretch to reach them, but they aren’t extreme.
  • Relevant: The objective aligns with, supports, or advances the organization’s vision, mission, values, principles, and strategies. This element ensures employees maintain the right focus.
  • Time Bound: Indicates a time frame for action, including when the work objective will be completed.

Ultimately, the key to getting the business performance results you want is to ensure there’s a strong linkage to your business goals throughout your organization – from employee, to department, to division, to your over-arching business plan.

Setting up your employees for success by having thought-out performance objectives will help make business goals all that more achievable, while also boosting employee engagement and improving the employee experience!

What’s the difference between co-employment and employee leasing? Check out our eBook, Co-Employment vs. Employee Leasing: The Differences Brokers (and Clients) Should Know, to learn more about how different they really are!

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