Setting Performance Objectives

Employees and managers meet to clarify expected outcomes for the year and set objectives that link the employee's job to department and campus objectives. Objectives define "what" employees are expected to accomplish. Managers and employees should aim to define S.M.A.R.T. objectives.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Examples of S.M.A.R.T. objectives

  • Implement update of on-line graduate application program by October 1, 2006
  • Reduce telephone expenses by 15% within the first half of the fiscal year.
  • Identify three new funding sources by the end of FY 2006, and ensure that all grant requests are written, reviewed, and submitted to the granting agency/foundation by the respective deadlines.

Identifying Behaviors for Success

In addition to objectives (which focus on end results) other aspects of performance should be considered. Understanding the approaches and behaviors that employees can use to perform the job is often as important to success as end results.

Many approaches, however, are not easy to measure. For this reason, managers and employees should discuss these aspects of performance, sometimes called "performance dimensions," in specific, observable, job-related, behavioral terms.

For example, if success in meeting an objective such as "updating an on-line graduate application program" requires strong interpersonal skills, then the employee should know that s/he will have to build solid relationships, collaborate, and incorporate ideas and suggestions made by colleagues. Performance will be assessed on how well behaviors associated with the dimension, interpersonal skills, are demonstrated in reaching the objective.

In addition to strong interpersonal skills, other examples of commonly used performance dimensions include:

  1. Customer Service Orientation
  2. Effective Communication
  3. Valuing Diversity
  4. Analysis and Problem-Solving
  5. Decision-Making and Results Orientation
  6. Fostering a Safe and Secure Environment

Creating Development Goals

Managers and employees should work together to create development plans as part of the annual performance management process. The plan can focus on skills aimed at job mastery or combine job mastery with professional development skills. Job mastery skills are those that are necessary to successfully perform one's job. Professional development skills are the skills and knowledge that go beyond the scope of the employee's job description, although they may indirectly improve job performance. Development plans commonly include classes, but can also include elements such as cross-training and special project participation.