One reason why some managers don’t want to use performance objectives is because they don’t like the idea of telling their employees what to do (read more at ‘Management by Objectives – Too Old School?’). Quite right too. But performance objectives aren’t about telling our employees what to do at all. They are about involvement and agreement which is why Deadly Sin No 4 of my ‘5 Deadly Sins’ is:
Deadly Sin No. 4 – Not involving our employees in identifying and defining performance objectives
Here’s the issue; by not involving our employees in identifying and then defining their performance objectives we are in a position of having to tell them what to do. And here’s the thing
Performance objectives are not meant to be imposed
Very few employees want or need performance objectives imposed upon them (except, possibly, the inexperienced new recruit and the chronic under performer). The majority of our employees want to be fully involved in identifying and defining their performance objectives. After all, performance objectives describe what good performance looks like for the employee’s job and it’s against those performance objectives that the employee’s actual performance will be monitored, evaluated and, possibly, rated. No wonder then that employees want to be fully involved!
So how do you involve your employees in identifying and defining objectives? Here are some options
Options for involving your employees in defining performance objectives
1. Give them the objective you have written – as a draft – and ask them to make suggestions for improvement. Top tip: Be sure to make the objective you’ve written look like a draft – have some typos, crossing out, a tea cup stain etc. It’s hard to amend something that’s so perfect it looks like the finished version
2. Teach your employee how to write performance objectives and ask them to write a draft objective (s) (for an example of how to write objectives take a look at ‘Writing performance objectives using reverse thinking’)
3. Use some old objectives (ask around – someone must have some!). It doesn’t really matter how good or bad they are, simply ask your employee to re write them until they describe what good performance looks like for their job
Agreeing the performance objectives
Ok, so your employee has come back with the objectives they have written, amended or edited. You now need to agree those objectives.
My tip here is to start with the objectives your employee has written. If you don’t have to add anything then don’t – just congratulate your employee on their excellent work and move on to agreeing how you will record and monitor the objectives (see below)
If you have doubts about what the employee has written then try using questions (rather than simply disagreeing). Don’t forget, the employee’s objectives are intended to feed into the team and business objectives. So, if the employee has written something you consider to be a little dumb, you could simply ask a question like ‘I’m not clear on how meeting this objective would contribute to improving client retention. Can you explain?’ If they can, great, if they can’t they will see why they need to amend the objective. Now you can add your ideas and suggest ways to improve the objective
Don’t stop there!
You now need to record the objective within your performance appraisal or review system in the usual way. You also need to agree how the employee’s actual performance will be monitored against the objective (read how to do this at in my blog ‘A quick way to involve your employee in monitoring’)
Performance Objectives Summary
Performance objectives are an excellent management tool for improving employee performance. Involving your employees in identifying and defining the objectives that describe what good performance looks like for their job is the easiest way to gaining your employees commitment to achieving those objectives.
Do you want to read more about Performance Objectives?
Why 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