Year End Performance and Setting Goals

Year End Performance and Setting Goals
Monday, December 17th, 2012 Scott Bossart

                It’s that time of year where one major topic or activity becomes the high focus around businesses right now, the annual performance review and establishing next years’ performance goals.  I see this taking on many aspects or forms from simplistic and basic to extensive and extremely involved.  I also see it being managed from many different perspectives such as top down approaches to bottom up approaches.  In the end, depending on how the goals were established for the year, how the year has progressed, and any ongoing routine performance discussions which were held, the year-end review can be very easy or very hard.  I also see performance monitoring and reviews being done from all levels in an organization to include the top leadership and all the way through the mass labor workforce.  Performance measures are a very good official way to not only motivate an employee to perform, but also establish a path or avenue for the employee to demonstrate self-improvement while being recognized for their work and professional improvements.  It is also a vital tool for communicating expectations, company directions, and organization vision to all employees and staff.

                Assessing and reviewing an employees’ yearly performance can facilitate constructive and value added discussions if taken seriously and performed objectively.  I have also witnessed and experienced it becoming destructive and demoralizing to the person being reviewed to the extent their attitude changes negatively which then transitions to a negative impact on the organization.  I have also witnessed this event taken casually to the extent it is diminished to a mere after thought with little or no value added discussion between the people being reviewed the managing person.  Discussions must be from a completely objective perspective and contain supported comments, discussion points, performance metrics, etc.  These discussion points should also be for both positive and negative aspects of how the person has performed over the course of the year.  Both the person being reviewed and the person doing the reviewing, should agree on the perspective of the review.  This can be hard to accomplish if the goals and actions were subjective in nature.  It can be hard if the personal opinion of one is allowed to influence the discussion topics of the other.  Further yet, it can be even harder if there has not been any communication during the year with the employee on how they are doing against the years established objectives and goals.  This is not to say every talking point can be quantitative in nature, but I am suggesting if there is something negative to discuss, specific examples must be brought into the picture along with what the alternative action could have been and what success should have looked like.  It is important to understand as well, that alternative action must have also been in the person’s capabilities or realm of knowledge.

                When it comes to establishing the next year’s goals and performance, it is extremely important to stay realistic, identify some “stretch” goals, and identify the necessary tools they will need to be successful.  Again with this point, I have witnessed and experienced metric type of goals established at very high levels where the chance of achieving success is not realistic.  Especially when the metric being monitored is a percentage based measurement.  If you establish a 100% or a 0% achievement metric, it has to be a realistic and achievable goal.  If you, and the person you are establishing the goals for, do not agree on achievement, more open minded discussion is required.  Some goals can be subjective and condition based, but it is recommended to include some form of documentation which supports what success looks like.  Often times, this is best done by a third person/s or group/s who are not directly attached or more simply, don’t have any skin in the game…so to speak.  In the end, as a leader within the organization, your optimum goal is to facilitate and direct the employee to be successful, support the organizations objectives, and drive towards the business vision.  This can be done whether you deal with management, supervision, or even the labor workforce.  The level of detail is strictly driven on what the organization needs the employee/staff member to achieve in order for them to grow professionally and keep the business moving forward.

                The year-end performance reviews should be an enlightening experience.  Take the opportunity, time, and effort to communicate with your staff and employees on a rewarding and constructive level.  If you have given due diligence throughout the year and held reviews of their progress, the end of year is far easier and less of a surprise to both you and the person you are reviewing.  The overall objective must be for the good of the employee 1st and the direction of the organization second.  Without personal growth for the employee, the growth of the organization will be limited.  If your staff and employees are expected to intuitively know all the expectations you have for them, expect them to simply think and act like you feel you are doing, and take their own initiative to improve on a professional level, the organization will not move in the same direction.  Take the opportunity to get everyone pushing on the same objectives and in the same direction.  You will find the organization will advance more sustainably and potentially at a faster pace than expected.  Not to mention, everyone will perform in a much better state of mind…professional health.

Stay Well

Scott B.


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