The first phase of performance management -- performance planning -- is clearly the most important. Care taken during this phase will yield significant benefits during subsequent phases and will produce the best results. Another reason why the performance planning phase is critical is that it establishes the essential link between departmental goals and objectives and individual performance expectations. In simple terms, it is of little benefit to the university for the development researcher to perform well in areas that aren't important to job or departmental success.
Finally, the performance planning phase is important because it is here that constructive communication can be established or enhanced between supervisor and the development researcher. Performance expectations and performance results are legitimized as topics of discussion during performance planning, and the supervisor can establish a "coaching" role.
During the performance planning phase, you will:
Give the researcher ample notice of the performance planning session, review the overall purpose and design of the performance management system, share relevant department materials, and ask the development researcher to draft preliminary performance objectives or job responsibilities.
The development of an employee performance management plan is paramount to the success of any performance management system. A performance plan establishes the development researcher's essential job tasks, responsibilities, and critical performance objectives that need to be achieved or performed during the performance period. The performance plan is mutually developed during the planning conference and reflects the individual aspects and nature of the employee's job.
For any group to achieve its goals, all members of the group must be working in the same direction. Similarly, performance objectives and responsibilities must be consistent with the goals and objectives of the department and unit.
For this reason, it is important that the supervisor take the department mission, goals, and objectives into account while working with the employee to establish performance objectives and responsibilities. In some cases, it may be useful to refer to and share the management plan of your department with the employee. Often, it is helpful to review the legislative mandate or foundation for your operation, as well as other pertinent executive orders and directives. Some departments will have formal mission statements and sets of annual goals, objectives and strategies. Review and discuss these and other such documents with the employee.
In addition to formal documents, talk with your reviewing manager about departmental perspectives. It is important to consider the big picture; in this way, valued and meaningful improvements in performance are more likely.
The staff member will be focused on doing the right things and on doing them well.
Pay particular attention to objective and strategy statements that may exist in your department. Often, such objective statements may delineate specific improvement or innovative targets, and otherwise provide strong guidance in the performance planning process. For example, if your department has a goal to increase productivity in service delivery, consider whether the employee's job responsibilities and objectives would support achievement of that departmental goal.
In formulating objectives and job responsibilities, it is best to write a few well conceived, important objectives and responsibilities. While the specific number of objectives and responsibilities that are appropriate varies across jobs and situations, three to seven objectives and responsibilities are often sufficient to cover key performance goals and issues. In most cases, state performance objectives and responsibilities so that attainment of the result specified is equivalent to a satisfactory performance level.
DEFINITION OF PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES
A performance objective is a statement of a specific desired end result or output. Performance objectives are jointly established by the supervisor and the development researcher at the beginning of the management cycle. The participatory approach built into objectives development reflects the premise that employees will be more motivated to work toward objectives that they have helped to develop.
CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE OBJECTIVES
There are several characteristics of effective performance objectives to keep in mind as you and the employee develop them. Good performance objectives will:
While developing performance objectives, three general categories of criteria can be used: quantity, quality, and timeliness. For some tasks, such as production-oriented jobs, quantitative criteria may be primary. For others, as in research, quality may be the main concern. In yet others, timeliness may be most important.
Two of the categories, quantity and timeliness, are fairly straightforward. Quantity is concerned with how much is produced, while timeliness is concerned with how quickly or in what time frame the task is completed. For quantity and timeliness, the supervisor is dealing with specific information which can be objectively measured against the employee's performance. Quality, on the other hand, is broader, less specific, and more difficult to measure. Qualitative criteria address how effectively the work is performed. These issues are more subjective and open to interpretation. Therefore, it is very important in developing standards to assess quality, supervisors must describe them as precisely as possible. Communication between the supervisor and the employee is critical in defining and clarifying the expectations and parameters of what constitutes quality in performance.
To assist you further in defining and incorporating quality into the performance objectives, research indicates that there are five dimensions of quality that may be useful. They are:
Conduct thorough and accurate development research profiles (RELIABILITY/ASSURANCE). Promptly follows up with the development officer within two days to see if the research meets the need (RESPONSIVENESS). Demonstrate professional courtesy and consideration for all university development colleagues (EMPATHY).
As stated earlier, performance objectives flow from duties, tasks, and departmental goals and objectives. For convenience, however, it is sometimes useful to think about objectives as falling into three major categories:
These individualized sites will be programmed to utilize the latest in “push technology”, electronic database access and provide up-to-the minute news and wire service data on donor prospects chosen by each development officer."
SAMPLE OUTLINE OF PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES
For convenience of organizing the FY 1999-00 performance objectives for the office of USC Development Research, I believe it is useful to think about our objectives as falling into three major categories:
A. Maintenance: Objectives referring to a desire of Alumni & Development Records to maintain performance in a critical responsibility area at a currently acceptable or more than acceptable level.
On going performance objectives include:
B. Problem solving or improvement: Objectives where present
conditions or performance levels are not at the desired level. Such objectives
reflect the need to solve an individual or organizational problem that
is hampering performance.
Problem Solving or Improvement objectives include:
C. Innovative: Objectives aimed at developing better or more efficient methods of fulfilling certain job responsibilities or achieving certain departmental objectives.
Innovative objectives to increase efficiency include: