Objectives are needed so that you know your responsibilities within the organization and have them as milestones against which to check your performance throughout the year.
Task, Time and Style are the three important areas to be concentrated for attaining the objectives.
Questions to ask while the task is assigned to you:
What precisely are the tasks that you are expected to perform?
Are there any measures on these tasks – #of files to be processed in one day?
Closings to be scheduled per day? Customers to be served in one hour, day or month?
The more precisely you can set down the tasks, the easier it is for you to perform them.
When someone starts a new job there is usually an induction period and the tasks they have to do are clearly expressed. Once someone has been in the job for a while there is a tendency to assume they ‘know what to do’ and they are left alone. However, circumstances change, other team members change, strategic goals change and it is good to specify the tasks for each member of the team on a regular basis.
An appraisal interview is an ideal opportunity in which to discuss changes in these objectives and to set and agree on operating objectives. This is particularly important where there is a need for team members to work together – this way you can prevent two prime errors – repetition of work and/or everyone thinking that someone else was doing this piece of the task.
Deadlines are needed. Define by when you believe the work should be completed – and also in what form (initial ideas, final report, quick brainstorm, collected views of the team). When setting deadlines, management and the individual should discuss these to check for realism – can the work be achieved in the time set? If not, what can you alter – time? number of people working on the task? final state of work (that is an acceptable first draft)?
Realism is the key – there is the tale of one in-house IT department at the launch of a new major project with the ‘customer’ present where someone asked, “which of these deadlines can we miss?”
Realism should be combined with accountability. Just because management may have dictated an objective, is the objective something the individual thinks he or she can realistically accomplish?
Style means the behavior and manners expected of the individual – how they do their work, not what they do. Some organizations work with behavioral competencies that focus on the manner in which people work together. Behaviors are what people see and react to. Individuals need to know how their behavior affects others and whether it helps or hinders their work. Apart from the general ‘rules’ about behavior in the office it can be hard to talk with someone on their own behaviors. This is where the rules of feedback and collecting data on performance are key as is the establishment of an open atmosphere in the working environment.