How do you measure employee performance?

9 October, 2019
Employee performance

Set SMART goals and align with strategy

When employees are engaged with their work, they will want to know how the organisation is doing. They will also want to know how they are doing. By measuring employee performance, you will help individuals and teams to progress toward their goals.

In this article, we consider how to set goals with employees. We also consider how aligning these goals to your organisational purpose and business strategy will help keep your employees engaged with their work.


Be SMART when setting employee performance goals

It is important that your employees buy into the goals that you set for them. Thus, goal setting should be a collaboration between the manager and the employee. Perhaps the most successful framework for goal setting, and the one that helps to optimise employee performance most effectively, is SMART. In this framework, goals are:

Specific – defined in exact terms that describe the objective. For example, a goal to ‘increase personal sales numbers’ says very little. It doesn’t say by how much or when. A specific goal will allow the manager (and employee) to measure employee performance. For example, ‘increase personal sales number by 10% each quarter’.

Measurable – a goal should be trackable and measurable. By defining goals as a series of milestone events, you help to motivate employee performance.

Attainable – the bar must not be set so high that the objective is not achievable. Doing so will only serve to demotivate the employee. You should consider the employee’s abilities, and internal and external influences that may hamper achievement.

Relevant – the objective must be relevant to the employee’s and the organisation’s goals.

Time-bound – The objective must have a deadline, providing enough time to achieve the objective, but not so much that it undermines it.


Goals must be aligned

We touched on the importance of aligning goals above, but let’s clarify what this means.

The employee must see how their role, and their daily tasks, contribute to the strategic goals of the organisation – the big picture. It is essential that you keep your business strategy simple to engage employees with it and avoid decision paralysis. Clear communication is key to achieving alignment of personal goals with organisational goals.

When an employee aligns their personal goals with the goals of their employer, employee performance benefits from accelerated momentum. Multiply this across all your employees, and the energy that aligned goals create becomes an irresistible driving force that propels the organisation toward its strategic objectives.


Tracking employee performance

Tracking employee performance toward their SMART goals allows employees to adjust effort and keep on track. Regular reviews of performance enables the employee and his or her manager to assess performance and identify training or resource needs to achieve the goals set.

By tracking employee performance in line with their employees’ SMART goals, and taking action to readjust along the journey, the manager fosters a more flexible and adaptable workforce.


In summary

Goals are essential to maintaining individual, team and organisational performance. For them to achieve their potential, the objectives of individual employees must be understood and aligned with the organisation’s strategic goals.

For goal setting to work, it is essential that each employee understands how his or her individual goals tie in with the organisation’s big picture. It is this alignment that helps to create a greater sense of meaning to everyday work.

Setting SMART goals enables employee performance to be measured, and for adjustments to be made when needed. This helps employees and managers track progress toward all goals, in an open environment where learning, adaptability and flexibility are valued attributes.

To understand how our Learning Map could help your employees align their personal goals with your organisation’s business strategy and purpose, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

(To see how putting people in the picture creates a shared vision and helps set a concrete destination, read this case study.)

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