Since introducing Kin, we’ve learned a lot about creating effective employee objectives.
When our CEO Craig Bryant wrote an article diving into the science and art of creating good employee objectives, he focused on the approach popularized by Marnie E. Green, author of Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day-to-Day Employee Performance.
Green’s approach to writing different employee objectives is broken into four categories:
- Essence of the Job Goals
Define tasks that will be required to complete the job, should be very personalized to the individual position and employee
- Project Goals
Activities that the employee should pursue with a clearly defined beginning and end
- Professional Development Goals
What the employee will learn in the next six months and a year that will help their professional growth
- Performance Goals
Very basic, but what time the employee should show up, what they should wear, etc.
When writing employee objectives, applying the principles of S.M.A.R.T goals helps to create a more defined objective. If you’re unfamiliar, the basic idea of S.M.A.R.T. objectives are that they are:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
- Achievable (agreed, attainable)
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
Keeping S.M.A.R.T. objectives in mind, here are four employee objective examples, one for each of Green’s categories. You and your employee will want to tailor each of their objectives to be unique. Consider the role, the department, company initiatives, budgets, and of course, reality.
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Objective example: Analyze and report social media metrics every Monday morning
Essence of the Job goals are specific enough to provide direct guidance to the employee. These are actions that the employee is going to take on a regular basis, be it every day or every week as in our example.
While there are a few ways to structure the sentence, making sure that your objective passes the S.M.A.R.T. goals test and applies to Green’s categories is key.
The analyzing and reporting of social media metrics is a responsibility given to a specific employee. There might be only one person on your team who can do this.
“Every Monday morning” is a great example of a time-bound objective. It’s clear to the employee when the metrics are to be reported and is measurable by whether or not the employee reports the metrics each week.
Using this example, you can replace the words before “every” with the duty of a specific job and replace the words after “every” with a relevant time-bound constraint.
A few more examples include: update the executive team on marketing initiatives every Friday, write two blog posts about the company every month, or enroll new employees in our direct deposit program every time a new hire is being onboarded.
If you’re still having trouble coming up with essence of the job goals, you may have already written a few. Take a look at the job description that the employee applied for the job with. The duties and responsibilities are not only a great place to start for these objectives, but sometimes your objectives are already be written for you.
This is one of the few times a copy-and-paste does the trick.
Objective example: Launch our new app to the app store by the end of the year
Project goals tend to fall outside of your employee’s regular day-to-day activities. The projects associated with these goals are in addition to your employees existing work. This could include creating new systems to manage internal work or creating a new product.
Our example focuses on a large feat, for sure. Launching an app is no easy task. It requires more folks than what would normally be responsible for an objective and may fall more on the project managers and other leaders on your team than you.
Project objectives may not have been discussed along with the other types of objectives talked about here, but they are just as important. Projects move businesses faster and with more strategy.
Regardless of the project outcome, going over the results, and having your employees held responsible for them, is the key to your employee’s growth.
Creating project goals is as easy as listening for the outcome of the project and holding your staff accountable with time-bound restrictions.
Remember to communicate your expectations and be sure that your employee buys into the objective.
Objective example: Complete the HubSpot Marketing Certification by the end of Q1
Professional Development goals connect the employee and your company on a shared path of growth. These goals are not bound by the day-to-day duties of the job, but rather focuses on learning opportunities.
If your company is using HubSpot for inbound marketing and sales, gearing one of your employees in the marketing department to obtain one of their many certifications will help both the company and the employee.
Your company will reap the benefits of having a skilled employee in the software you otherwise might not have had and your employee will benefit from the expanded skill set they have under their belt.
“By the end of Q1” creates a time-bound objective. What makes this a great employee objective isn’t just how it’s written, but the work done behind the words.
Can your employee complete the certification by the end of Q1?
The “A” in S.M.A.R.T. goals is the key to a great professional development objective. If your employee can agree to the action and the time limit on the objective, then the goal is achievable. This requires you and your employee to chat it out!
Be open to them about how great of an opportunity the goal is, suggest a timeframe or two and agree on what would work best together.
With this example, think of “it would be nice” situations. What credentials are available for your employee to use to advance their career and make progress in your company? This isn’t necessarily a certification, it could be a class, a conference, or even connecting your employee with a mentor in your company.
Other examples of a professional development goal could be: attend two SaaS conferences this year or re-certify for an HR credential by August.
Objective example: Reduce customer service response times from 48 hours to 24 hours
Performance goals should really be called performance improvement goals. While not a strict adherence to Green’s perspective, the addition of improvement provides a better understanding of when to use performance improvement as an objective.
With an employee not meeting standards, a performance improvement objective puts the responsibility of achieving the goal solely on the employee.
If the 48 hour period is thought to be unacceptable and a negative mark on the employee’s performance, this goal would be paired with a performance improvement plan where the employee would be required to meet this goal or risk consequences.
Performance improvement objectives that are created to better gauge whether or not the employee can grow in the role are an important way to mitigate any potential concerns about the employee performing at a specific level.
Whether your employee has not met the standards of the job or they are on their way to taking the next step and growing, a performance improvement objective helps put a plan in place to move your employee to the next step.
A next-step performance improvement goal is structured the same way, but it’s used as a way to simply gain increases and efficiencies.
Other examples of a performance improvement objective include: double website traffic over the next 12 months or increase sales revenue by 15% over the next six months.
Help your employee achieve their objectives
All four categories of Green’s objectives, with S.M.A.R.T. application, are needed for your folks to thrive at your company and it’s important to create objectives employees actually care about.