8 Ideas to Make Your Performance Goal Setting a Breeze

Look for your choices, pick the best one, then go with it. ~Pat Riley

Some love it. Some dread it. Performance goals
I get a lot of questions inside and outside of the office about performance goals, especially this time of year.
If you are working in an organization it is very likely that you will have some kind of annual performance review and goal setting ritual in place.

Almost every business has a system in place to answer two questions.

1. What is expected to happen this year?
2. How will I know we are making good progress against that expectation?

Simple right?

If so many groups use this method to set targets for the year, why are the surveys and research always saying how ineffective it is?If the research says it is ineffective, why do we continue to do it?

No matter how we feel about goals. We probably still need to go through the process. With that said I’d like to share a few ideas for making your performance goal setting task a little bit easier.

disclaimer: these ideas and thoughts are entirely my own and do not reflect any opinions from the organizations that I am associated with.

1. Watch a video on smart goal setting. It’s a good reminder of the key components we need to fill in as we write a goal statement. I don’t want to spend a lot of time going through the definition of each letter (Specific, Measurable, Achieveable/Agreed, Measurable, Timebound). There are plenty of resources online that you can find by typing “SMART Goal” into google.

2. Build on your review from last year. I’ve made the mistake of not using my manager’s comments and suggestions from my past year review. This was a good learning for me. The comments and feedback from a past review can be a good setup for setting performance goals in this year.

3. Don’t try to write them all at once. Some goals require a bit a thinking and creativity to get right. Give yourself a few rounds to imagine the criteria and criterion for which you will measure yourself during the year.

4. Think behaviors. Rather than making a done/not done task, consider writing goals that will require consistency over a long period of time. What are some things you can do on a regular basis that impact a larger outcome during the year? What are the drivers?

I see a lot of goals that are only revenue targets. For me, it’s hard to imagine waking up in the morning thinking about how I am going to make more money for someone else. I’d rather be challenged to do some behavior that I know I can control. I can think about how to make it more efficient or improve the quality.

5. Productivity vs Efficiency. These two terms are very similar in concept, but approach their output in different ways.

Productivity can be defined by the amount of work within a specific time frame.Example: making more phone calls in one hour. Another example: drinking more cups of tea before you have to go to the bathroom.

Efficiency can be defined by speed, accuracy and consistent quality within which an employee works. Example: Can you make a single pot of tea with fewer mistakes than before? Can you save more leaves and get the same great taste out of it? In the working world it might look like writing a report with fewer mistakes and still getting it out on time. It could also be achieving the same sales target and spending less on marketing.

6. Balance long, mid, and short range goals and focus. Ideally you would only want to do one big thing at a time. Most books recommend 3-5 goals at one time. This doesn’t mean you have 3 goals that must be achieved by December 31, 2015.

You might have a performance behavior that only needs 90 days to become automated. So you focus for those 90 days and make it amazing. Then it becomes automatic and you move on to the next thing.

As a training manager I am often challenged by having a million different request for initiatives coming in. I only have two hands. I can only give attention to setting up one thing at a time.

At one point, I desperately tried to make it all work at the same time. I made a portfolio of all the projects being requested with a status indicator and next actions defined. I figured if I could get a little bit done on each one then I would be in a good position of making them all happen at the same time.

The reality was that I was making mediocre progress on everything and nothing was getting done. It would have been better to do one thing really well and then find a way to have the process automated. After automated and working like a machine, we move on to the next thing.

7. Create development plans that don’t collect dust. My manager used to list out the training courses I should take to support my development areas. Later I would learn that the budget was cut and I wouldn’t be able to do all the training we listed out. I had to get creative.

Development plans are about development, not training. Formal training is probably about 10% of what can support development.
Start by identifying your areas of focus. This can be making a strength even stronger or filling a weakness gap. Don’t forget about your strengths! Our strengths are what make us stand out and push us to new levels of achievement.

Think about things you are already doing during the day that can be converted into learning challenge. You might be writing proposals for customers. How can your proposal writing be taken to the next level? Is it by writing proposal for bigger revenue customers? Is it by leading a team to write proposals without you touching the actual document? Maybe it is training someone else to make their proposals even better? I don’t know. You’ll have to get creative.

Build an opportunity portfolio and find out which ones can be focused on this year.Identify steps you want to take to make these things happen.Agree with your company leader that their is opportunity and support to make things happen. Then go do it.

8. Find an informal location to discuss all this. Working in an corporate cube or fishbowl office is not the most creative space. Get outside. Drink some tea. Go for a walk. Anything informal will do.

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