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People Series: Blog 3 “Objectives and Expectations”

Posted on 08/05/2017, 10:42

So, you’ve now decided on your organisational structure, the roles you are looking to fill and started to recruit your team (see our previous newsletters). Now it’s time to start to think about setting the objectives for these roles and, just as importantly, your expectations.

Why do I need to set objectives?

By establishing objectives for your employees, you are setting expectations.  For example, if you set an objective for a member of staff in a telesales team to provide 20 sales leads per week, that member of staff knows exactly what he or she needs to achieve to be ‘good’ at what they do.

Each employee’s objectives should align to the business goals.  If you want to grow sales by 10% this year, your sales team members should have objectives that together, add up to the total.

Equally, it is important that your staff see the relevance of the objectives you set for them. Unless they can see how what they do adds to the bigger picture your employee will struggle to see how his or her efforts support the organisation’s mission. They will not feel engaged and probably won’t perform at the levels you need or want.

The objectives you set should challenge the member of staff and give them an opportunity to learn and develop their skills whilst trying to achieve them. An individual’s objectives work best when they are lined up to specific development needs as well as key business objectives. Their objectives should therefore drive their behaviours and help the business improve.

Smart objectives

One way to ensure your team really ‘get’ and buy-in to their objectives is to make them SMART:

Specific – When setting objectives for your staff, be specific in what you want them to achieve. Ensure that the targets you set are clear and easily understood. This is not the time to be ‘woolly’.

Measurable – How can you measure an objective like, ‘Support the service team’? You can’t! The best way to measure progress against objectives is to use either numbers or specific, measurable milestones.

Accountable – it must be clear who is accountable for delivering the objective.  Your employees should be absolutely clear therefore about what they personally will be expected to deliver.

Realistic – Your team have to feel they can achieve their objectives. Starting the year with an objective that you know you cannot achieve is completely disheartening. Objectives shouldn’t be easy – they should be a challenge – but they cannot be impossible. Objectives must therefore be realistic taking into account the resources available, previous performance and skillset of the team.

Time bound – The final piece of the jigsaw is setting a specific time by which the objective needs to be achieved. This can be a specific date or a time of year, just make sure that there is time by which the objective should be achieved.  This can be broken down into bite sized pieces as milestones.

What does ‘good’ look like?

Setting objectives that are both SMART and help you hit the goals of the business isn’t easy – but then again, anything that is worth doing never is. You should formulate an idea of what you think good looks like and be willing to compare that with what your staff thinks good looks like. This can be tough.

Vital to success is ensuring that the employee ‘buys-in’ to their objectives and feels ownership for them.  A great way of ensuring this is to get their input as part of setting their objectives. Why not ask them what they believe they can achieve? How they can help the business grow? What do they think their SMART objectives should look like? They might surprise you by stretching themselves further than you thought possible – now that sounds like a SMART place to be.

Don’t compromise on your standards but be prepared to have a bit of negotiation to allow for experience levels and ambition. Be very clear about the standards you expect. The idea is to get to a win-win situation where the business (i.e. YOU) and the team all win. If all parties agree what good looks like then there is more chance of everyone winning.

Pulling everything together

Having agreed your objectives, made them SMART and set your performance expectations, the penultimate thing to do is to write them down. If it isn’t written down, it’s an idea not an objective.

To help with this we have a free SMART objective template which is designed to help you think about objectives to ensure that they are SMART…

And last but certainly not least …

We said ‘penultimate thing to do’. So what is the last thing? That’s to review performance against objectives, regularly. See our next newsletter for more on this.

As ever, if you would like external perspective or help on any of the above, do get in touch or book a free business help session here.

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