Achieving Performance Objectives: Using an Activity Check Exercise

performance objectivesAre you (or your team) struggling to meet your performance objectives? Are you puzzled as to why? Some time ago I worked with a team who were struggling to meet their performance objectives. After doing some talking and thinking we discovered that:

a) They were working as hard as they always had

b) They were no longer (in terms of meeting their performance objectives) getting the results they used to get

After more discussion we also identified:

c) Some of their key objectives had changed

d) What they were doing – on a day by day basis – hadn’t changed

We realised they needed to undertake some analysis of what they were doing (the activities they were undertaking) and how effective these activities were in meeting their performance objectives

They asked me to design a way of undertaking this analysis. The following (which I called – very inventively I thought – the ‘Activity Check Exercise’) is what we used to uncover what they needed to do differently

If you are having difficulty achieving your performance objectives, as a team or as an individual, why not give it a try?

Achieving Performance Objectives: The Activity Check Exercise

The purpose of this exercise is to begin the process of defining the activities (or ‘tasks’ if you prefer) currently undertaken by you and your team and evaluating the value of those activities in meeting the key objectives of the team

Step One: Making the grid

Take a (large!) sheet of paper and divide it into 7 columns. Make a title for the first column of ‘Activities’.

Title the next five columns ‘Objective 1’ ‘Objective 2’ and so on. Next to each title enter a short title description of the 5 key objectives for your team e.g. ‘Objective 1: Process Client Orders’ (if you’ve got more than 5 key objectives just make more columns – apologies for the blinding light of the obvious!)

Sub divide each of the ‘Objectives’ columns into two

Title the seventh column ‘not allocated’. Your grid should look like this:


performance objectives

Step Two: Listing the activities

Using short descriptions, record under the ‘Activity’ column all of the activities you and your team currently undertakes. Include those activities undertaken on a daily basis along with those undertaken frequently (e.g. weekly). In short, you are making a list of short descriptions of what your teams does each day / week

Step Three: Allocating the activities

Assess each activity against the key objectives. Ask yourselves – which of the key objectives does this activity help to meet? Place a tick in the left box under the objective if that activity directly contributes to the meeting of the objective

If the activity does not contribute directly to the meeting of any objective place a tick in the box entitled ‘Not Allocated’

Step Four: Assessing the activities

Assess each activity again. Ask yourself – how effective is this activity in meeting the key performance objective? Allocate a rating as follows:

H  – Highly effective

M  – Moderately effective

L  – Low level of effectiveness

Insert the rating letter in the box to the right under the relevant objective

Step Five: Asking the key questions

a) Review the activities rated M or L

Ask the questions:

What would have to happen for this activity to be rated High?

Is this activity no longer adding any real value – do we need to do something completely different?

b) Review the activities rated H

Ask the question:

What do we need to do to ensure this activity continues to be highly effective in meeting the objective?

c) Review the activities which are ‘Not Allocated’

Ask the question:

Do we need to continue undertaking this activity? (on the basis that – as the task is not contributing to meeting a key objectives – is there any point doing it?)

Step Six: Looking for gaps

Review the activities recorded against each objective

Ask the questions:

Do we need to undertake any additional activities to achieve the objectives? (you may not know what these activities are, simply that you need to do more to achieve the objectives)

We are here looking to see if there are any ‘gaps’ – objectives that do not seem to have enough activities allocated to them

Step Seven: Identifying improvements

Transfer the outcomes from the above exercise to a sheet of paper titled ‘Areas for Improvement’

You can now begin to make decisions around

a) activities that are partly meeting the objectives but need some improvement

b) how to ensure you continue to undertake (consistently and well) the activities that are contributing highly to meeting the objectives

b) activities that you can consider dropping altogether

c) new activities you need to undertake in order to meet the key objectives

Performance Objectives: Using an Activity Check Exercise Summary

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the ‘activity trap’ – undertaking tasks out of habit rather than because they have real value in meeting performance objectives. This exercise is all about having a  way to simply stand back and evaluate the effectiveness of what you are doing so that you can identify areas for improvement


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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