Annual Performance Objectives

As 2020 approaches, business owners are making preparations for a new calendar year: closing out the books, balancing the budget, projecting upcoming work and projects, making sure the right employees are in place to get the job done and countless other tasks. Mix in a couple of holiday parties and a sprinkling of extra days off, and this can be a very busy time of year! However, this is also a critical time to start thinking about one of the most important steps in the Performance Management process: setting Annual Performance Objectives.


What are Performance Objectives?

Performance Objectives are performance targets set for individuals on a periodic (annual, semi-annual, quarterly) basis. Performance objectives should act as a roadmap for an employee in his or her day-to-day job.

Why is the process of setting performance objectives so critical to your business?

Delivering clear, precise objectives to your employees is crucial to ensuring each and every member of your team is working towards meeting the overall objectives for your business. Additionally, setting objectives can:

  1. Provide clear direction for employees so that they know what they should be spending their time on;
  2. Create accountability, for employees and managers;
  3. Encourage employees to measure their work, instead of simply executing tasks;
  4. Establish how an employee’s individual work contributes to the company’s big picture. Employees who understand their impact on the company are typically more engaged employees!

How can performance objectives be executed most effectively? A few tips:

  1. Make sure your employees’ objectives support the business’ objectives. Each employee, regardless of role, should be performing tasks that ultimately tie back to the overall objectives of the business as a whole. This may require you to first reassess your business’ objectives to see if your focus needs to shift. Is the business looking to grow in revenue, open additional locations, refocus priorities, or change its mission? Alignment between the employee’s objectives and the business’ objectives is crucial to success.
  2. Make sure your employees’ objectives meet SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, Timebound. Setting pie-in-the-sky objectives that are not attainable doesn’t shape the right behaviors. Being deliberate and precise with employee objectives can help ensure that each task the employee performs will lead to achievement.
  3. Involve the employees in the objective-setting process, where possible. Show them how their goals have a direct impact on the company as a whole. This will create a more engaged employee who feels a stake in the overall success of the company instead of just in his or her own performance.
  4. Clearly communicate goals and objectives to the employees. Make sure they understand that their performance will be assessed based on these objectives. Effective delivery of objectives will lead to better comprehension.
  5. Follow up on progress towards objectives regularly. Providing pinpointed feedback during coaching sessions or 1-on-1s regularly will help keep the employee on track.
  6. During the Annual Performance Appraisal process, assess employees’ performance based on their achievement of objectives. This brings the process full circle for the employee.

Being intentional with goals and objectives, both for the business and the employee, will help you best leverage your greatest assets: your employees. For help with these and other Performance Management strategies, please contact Berger HR Solutions at or 410-695-9888. Let us partner with you to take your success to the next level.