Whats the best thing a manager can do to start the new year in a constructive and productive way? Its nothing fancy, but its fundamental and foundational: Set clear and meaningful objectives for all of your direct reports.
Establishing thoughtful, carefully conceived job objectives at the years outset is an important but sometimes overlooked managerial function. Often, not enough time is devoted to it. Yet clearly defined and agreed-to objectives can make all the difference between a year of collaboration or contentiousness, productivity or discontent.
Here are 5 suggestions for setting objectives to help optimize employee performance. Objectives should be:
First and foremost, job objectives need to be clear. If objectives arent clearly defined and understood, it sets the stage for trouble later in the year. Absent such clarity, when it eventually comes time to evaluate employee performance, troublesome he said, she said scenarios can easily develop.
Objectives should be as specific and measurable as possible. Again, this helps remove subjectivity from future evaluations. For example:
My own experience is that objectives are most successful
Its important that goals are not developed in isolation, but are closely aligned with organizational objectives. Thoughtful job objectives frequently take time to develop, requiring back-and-forth dialogue among employee, manager and senior management (No point training wolverines when management really needs antelopes!)
Lastly, the bar should be set at the right height. Set it too high and it can result in frustration and burnout. Set it too low and youre not doing your job to get all you (reasonably) can out of your employees. Ideally, you want to establish goals that talented individuals with strong, sustained effort.
Its worth emphasizing, as noted above, that it generally take time to develop such objectives properly. Often I went through 3 or 4 drafts with a direct report before all the language was as finely tuned as desired and we were in full agreement. But I never for an instant thought this process was a waste of time, but rather a worthwhile investment.
Lack of clarity is the enemy in this game. Confused, muddled expectations are the shoals on which which manager-employee relationships too often founder.
But get these beginning-of-year objectives right, and management becomes a considerably easier task