Setting Performance Objectives

Melissa Kennedy is a labour relations, employment and human resources specialist who assists clients with proactively managing compliance, risk and ensuring best practices are in place.

As we set to embark upon the year’s end, now is an appropriate time to begin goal setting and implementing employee performance objectives for the new year. Establishing clear expectations which are tied to the overall mission and vision of the organization, and which are aligned with and cascaded from senior leadership, will ensure that employees understand their role and value within the organization, and will work to continually motivate them throughout the year.

A performance management program should be proactive and specific. Goals and objectives should be aligned with the individual’s duties; ensuring that they are challenging, but reasonable, and not so overly aggressive that they be unattainable and seemingly discourage and demotivate the employee. Performance management programs provide an appropriate foundation to the organization’s succession planning efforts and oversight of the talent pipeline. Performance objectives can also be tied to the annual merit or variable compensation structure, to further encourage and drive results.

It is important that manager’s continually check in to ensure that employees are on track with meeting the established performance objectives; a good practice is to meet periodically throughout the year and for a formal mid-year review, to determine whether performance is on target to achieve goals and objectives. This proactive approach will ensure that any inefficiencies or shortcomings are met with support, guidance and clear direction; modifying or revising targets, where necessary.

If employee performance is continually of concern and below expectations, it is important to promptly address this with the individual and document accordingly. Where appropriate, the development of a performance improvement plan (PIP) can seek to correct employee behaviour and get them back on track; formal disciplinary action may be necessary in particular circumstances where the employee is not actively participating in improving their performance. Should it be necessary to end the employment relationship, the organization will be in a good position, having demonstrated their due diligence in managing the employee’s performance.