Like private and nonprofit employers, government agencies use performance objectives to ensure employees meet expectations. Agencies may include objectives in a job description or performance evaluation. Managers and employees may also develop objectives for the year and mention them only as appropriate in year-end evaluations, such as in the comments or accomplishments section.
Employers can write objectives in many ways. Objectives can describe behaviors that employees must show on the job. Well-written objectives serve as powerful motivators for employees to display the right behavior. One problem, however, arises from a manager's interpretation of how often an employee exhibits the right behavior--such as using a standard phone greeting--because a manager cannot observe an employee's behavior all the time.
Performance objectives frequently describe a desired outcome. The State of Missouri's internal guide, "Writing Performance Objectives for Job Components," offers an example: "Meet prescribed project deadlines as assigned." This case shows what an employee must do as a critical part of his job. An agency must standardize objectives for government employees. Some public agencies publish common objectives for employees in a broad classification--such as support staff--or as objectives for all workers.
Goal setting motivates individual employees and departments to achieve. These goals may not exist in official documents related to an employee's position. For example, a manager might work with a secretary to set a personal goal to increase her typing speed. In another example, an employee might express to a manager a desire to spend less time handling customer service calls.
Objectives are motivational tools. If employees don't accept their goals, however, managers cannot expect performance goals to positively affect performance. Performance objectives written by employees may motivate them more because they take ownership of these self-written goals.
- "Performance Management: Concepts, Skills, and Exercises"; Robert L. Cardy; 2004
- State of Missouri: Writing Performance Objectives for Job Components
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