4 FAQ’s about Writing Performance Objectives

1.     How do I write a performance objective that is at the appropriate level of difficulty—challenging enough without being too difficult to obtain?

Refer to your organization’s job description for the employee’s position, and ensure the performance objective is anchored at the appropriate work level. For example, for an entry-level employee, you can make it clear that the employee is expected to accomplish the performance objective with guidance. In contrast, for a senior-level employee, a performance objective would entail a high degree of independent judgment. For an expert-level employee, the objective should involve highly complex work, coordination across work groups, and/or producing results with far-reaching impact.

Meet with your Management Team to discuss what are appropriate expectations for employees in similar types of jobs and within certain pay or band levels. As appropriate, set common performance objectives for individuals who are doing the same work.

2.     How do I write performance objectives that are specific and measurable when the job is not easily quantified?

Identify at least one type of performance measurement that can be used (for example, quality, quantity, cost-effectiveness, or timeliness). With the employee and (as appropriate) with the employee’s stakeholders (individuals affected by the employee’s performance), list the criteria for successful job completion. For example, are thoroughness and accuracy more important than quantity? You may not know, because of different levels of complexity, the number of troubleshooting tickets an employee will be assigned. But you may expect the employee to work on a variety of troubleshooting tickets, follow a specific process, utilize specific tools, communicate with the stakeholder, and deliver an appropriate solution. Turn those criteria into measurements for the objective.

3.     How do I write performance objectives for long-term goals—something that will not be completed in this evaluation period?

Break the long-term goal into shorter projects with specific milestones. Write a performance objective that specifies those milestones that can be achieved during the evaluation period. Tie the short-term expectations to the long-term goal. For example, the employee would be expected to make all decisions (such as for purchasing materials or contracting services) with the long-term goal in mind.

4.     When tasks and responsibilities and even team goals will probably change during the Performance Review period, how do I write durable performance objectives that will apply throughout the year, so I don’t have to keep changing the performance objectives as the situation changes?

Write ‘floating’ objectives, for example:  “Deliver all assignments to specifications for quality, quantity, and time agreed upon with the customer and the project manager. The approach is expected to follow relevant, current business group Standard Operating Procedures and to be in compliance with ABC regulations.”


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