Using Performance Objectives to say ‘I don’t think you’re ready yet’

performance objectivesHow to Use Performance Objectives to say ‘I don’t think you’re ready for promotion yet’

So, you have come to that part of the performance appraisal meeting where you talk about the employee’s career aspirations. He wants to talk about promotion to the next level. You don’t think he is ready. How can you tell him?

I remember dreading this happening when I was a manager. Who wants to run the risk of disappointing an ambitious employee, to ‘burst their bubble’, to say (in effect) ‘you’re not quite good enough’? Not me and, I’m guessing, not you either. The good news is you don’t have to. What you can do is help the employee see for themselves that they have some development work to do before they are ready for promotion. I’ve learnt that the easiest way to do this is to use performance objectives. Here’s how

 Step1. Describe the next level using Performance Objectives

Often when our employee’s look up to the next level (to the role they aspire to) they do not see all that the role entails. They sometimes think the next level role is very similar to their current role (but with better pay, perks and a fancier job title!). The first step then is to help your employee understand what the next level role entails and, specifically, what is different about that role. The easiest way to do that is by using performance objectives.   Let’s say the next level role (amongst other things) requires a high level of ‘Client Management’. You would use performance objectives for ‘client management’ to describe what that means in the next role. You can then…

Step 2.  Evaluate the employee using Performance Objectives

You can now ask your employee to evaluate themselves against the objectives that you have decided describe effective performance in the job the next level role. You may need to ask them for ‘evidence’ of their assessment – examples and samples. So if they say they can ‘apply a range of strategies for developing long term relationships with clients’ but you have seen no evidence of them having done that you would simply ask the employee for some examples or samples. You may also need to give your feedback, again with ‘evidence’

Step 3. Identify the gaps using Performance Objectives

Together you can now identify the gaps between where they are (based on their, and your, evaluation) and where they need to be (the objectives)

Step 4. Identify and plan the employee’s development

Now you and the employee would identify 2 or 3 things they can begin improving on – and how they will do this


It’s always tricky having to say to an employee ‘I don’t think you’re ready for promotion yet’. The purpose of this exercise is to help the employee to come to that conclusion themselves by:

    •  Helping the employee see what effective performance really looks like in the role they aspire to
    • Helping them to see where they have development needs
    • Helping them to identify how to meet those development needs

Do you want to read more about Performance Objectives?

performance objectivesWhy not take a look at my e-book ‘Motivating Your Staff with Powerful Performance Objectives’ – a step-by-step guide for managers, team leaders and supervisors who want to motivate their staff to high performance. More details HERE

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