Effective Performance Appraisals Rest on SMART Performance Objectives

Effective Performance Appraisals and the success of the whole Performance Appraisal Process rest on well-written performance objectives and Performance Agreements—employees’ blueprints for success.

Some managers cascade performance objectives from their next level managers to their teams, determining which team member(s) will be responsible for which portion of each team objective. Other managers, including those whose teams are on special assignments, write the objectives with their teams. And top management-level employees may write their own objectives with input from their organization’s Board of Directors.

How does a manager draft SMART Performance Objectives?
An employee’s individual objectives should support the manager’s (the work team’s) objectives and align with the organization’s goals. Therefore, ensure that you have selected objectives that will make the most difference in the success of the team and the organization. Be specific. As you draft each objective:
1. Begin with an action word (such as achieve, complete, develop, update, or validate) indicating what the employee will accomplish.
2. Specify how you and the employee will know that he/she has accomplished the result. What criteria will you use to measure success? For example, will success be determined by accuracy, adherence to customer or team specifications, compliance with industry standards, or quantity?
3. Define when the expected result must be delivered. For example, must the result be delivered consistently during the entire review period or is there a targeted milestone or completion date?
4. Ensure that each objective goes beyond the employee’s job description to describe the contribution that the employee will make to the team and your organization. For example, the employee’s job description may be to troubleshoot all assigned trouble tickets. The objective may be to resolve (according to the team’s quality and time criteria) 100% of assigned customer trouble tickets.
5. Check your objectives against the SMART criteria: well-written objectives are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based.

Why are well-written Performance Agreements essential to a team’s success? Performance Agreements, based on well-written objectives, are valuable, dynamic management tools for bringing about continuous personal growth and improvement in current job assignments. Keep Performance Agreements in constant use throughout the Performance Review period. Update Agreements as business objectives change and as milestones are achieved. Discuss results. Discuss how to improve results. Performance Agreements should help employees understand that business success and individual success are linked. Take full advantage of the magic of words: the clearer your performance objectives, the more apt your employees are to achieve them.


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