Objectives are concrete statements that describe what you are trying to achieve. Objectives provide the staff member and the supervisor with the criteria needed to objectively discuss, monitor and evaluate performance.
Well written objectives:
- provide a focus on what is really important
- encourage continual improvement in performance
- provide an up-front, objective, mutually understood and accepted basis for reviewing and discussing performance results
- reduce misunderstandings between the staff and the supervisor about what performance results s/he are expected to achieve
- specify the staff member’s role in accomplishing things that are important for the work unit and the organisation
- help the staff member to self-monitor progress by providing clear performance targets to aim for.
When establishing work objectives, follow the SMART principles of objective setting:
- The objective explains precisely what has to be achieved
- The objective clearly explains the level/standard of performance expected
- Words are chosen that describe the objective in action-oriented terms, e.g. increase, reduce, provide, establish, eliminate, etc.
- Each work objective has at least one success criteria so that the staff member and supervisor are clear about how the staff member’s performance will be assessed
- Measures and standards (i.e. performance criteria) are:
- objective (e.g. number of papers published, dollar value of grants awarded, complaint or error rates) OR
- subjective (e.g. quality and standard of work produced, client satisfaction, student evaluation).
- Where a staff member is engaged in a team effort, criteria for determining their individual contribution to the team’s performance is identified and agreed.
- The objective is challenging, yet achievable
- The objective includes only actions or outcomes that the staff member is responsible and accountable for – not things that are beyond the control of the staff member
- The number and scope of objectives are realistic.
- It is more motivating to have fewer, clear objectives which can be completed to a high standard than a long list of objectives which cannot all be accomplished.
- For complex tasks and activities, long-term objectives are broken-down into shorter-term targets to help make the tasks more manageable.
- Objectives are consistent with departmental, faculty and University goals as well as the needs of the individual staff member.
- The staff member is clear why the objective is important and how it contributes to the broader objectives of the department/school, faculty and University
- The objective clearly states when it needs to be achieved by
- The objective clearly states when progress toward it will be reviewed
- The time frames are realistic (eg If several objectives are set, the time frames or completion dates are staggered)
- Progress is regularly reviewed to determine whether time-frames need to be modified.
- Key milestones are incorporated into long-term objectives as a way of monitoring progress.
- Recognising the achievement of milestones helps the staff member to remain committed to the objective as they can clearly see that progress is being made.
Objectives for academic staff
There are special requirements for the setting out of objectives for academic staff.