Removing the objectives section from performance appraisals

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Probably the most common section on a performance appraisal form is an objectives section.  Normally in two parts – review of past year, and setting of new objectives – and designed to get targets set against which the next appraisal can be assessed, I would say 90% of forms we see have this section.  But why?  A previous post on goal setting gives the background to how this section came to pass but we find a number of roles for which objective setting doesn’t work that well.

There are two main categories of role that don’t fit to the objectives structure.  First, are constant repetitive jobs.  Call centres, manual workers, programmers.  Most of these roles have their objectives built into the day-to-day role.  The objective is to do the day-to-day job correctly.  These jobs are better assessed by competence (can I do it) and key indicators (did I do it).  Objectives are useful for people who have a wider role within the organisation or have project work as part of their remit – which could of course include some of the examples I have given.

The second category is fast moving industry roles.  I once ran a call centre operation.  While I had an objective to answer 95% of calls within 15 seconds, frankly that was an hourly task not something I could achieve over a year – it was my job, not an annual objective.

I would rather see regular competency and indicator based assessments than force in an objectives section where it doesn’t fit.  The key aim is to use the performance appraisal process to help people understand how they are performing, give guidance on improvement, and generate development plans that can be supported and implemented.


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