Setting Successful Performance Objectives

Performance ObjectivesToday’s blog post is from leadership consultant, coach, trainer and speaker Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements. In this guest blog post Duncan offers his perspectives on setting performance objectives based on his own experiences and from working with his clients.

As a leader and manager one of your key responsibilities is to make sure that those who you lead or manage are clear about what is expect from them. One would think that this would be one of the easier things to do.

In reality having led and managed teams as small as 3 and as large as 70, the gap between theory and practice when it comes to setting performance objectives is often significant.

It can be hugely tempting to rely totally on things like job descriptions to set expectations. The problem is that job descriptions:

• Don’t always exist.

• When they do exist they are often so out of date that they are worthless.

• Tend to be so generic that they are only indicative. I once saw a job description with 42 responsibilities and it still had the all encompassing any other reasonable duties point at number 43.

• They are often poorly written and end up being a task list more than anything else.

So how can you get to the point of setting successful performance objectives?

Setting successful performance objectives

Start With The High Level View

When setting performance objectives you need to start by asking yourself; what are the two or three big outcomes you need from this job and the person who is in the role? Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to look at how the role fits into the overall departmental or organisational objectives.

Determine The Critical Success Factors

Every single role has some things that are critical to achieving success. It might be the specific skills that you use, the knowledge you bring or the required behaviours to get the result.

Link Objectives To Key Strategic Aims or Domains

One of the best performance objective setting and monitoring process I came across was when I worked at Ernst & Young one of the Big 4 accounting firms. Every employee had a personal balanced scorecard that set out how you were going to contribute to specific strategic domains.

Make The Measurement Basis Clear and Transparent

Whenever you set objectives it is vital that the leader, manager and the individual understands how achievement and progress will be measured. Sometimes people say that there are some things you cannot measure. The reality is that if you are finding it tough to measure something, chances are your objective is not clear enough.

Successful Performance Objectives – The Bottom Line:

Your success as a leader or manager depends to a large extent on the results of others. Taking the time to get performance objectives right can make a huge difference.

Duncan Brodie helps organisations to deliver great results through people. You can learn more at

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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