Employee performance appraisals include details about how an employee conducted his job during the review period and how he can improve performance in the future. These evaluations are often linked to pay-raise decisions and may affect eligibility for promotions. To properly appraise employee performance, managers need to establish clear goals for their employees and hold them accountable for achieving those goals. Depending on the type of employee, these goals can take different forms.

Non-Exempt Employees


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Many non-exempt employees work in the category of transactional tasks. They perform repeated iterations of a specific task, such as answering technical support calls or processing loan applications. They have limited ability to make decisions about the tools and processes they use. For these employees, goals should be tied directly to the metrics established to track business performance in their operational area.

For example, technical support agents would be responsible for managing their call times, ensuring that customer issues are resolved and adhering to company policies. These behaviors can be measured for an individual and compared to goals and peer performance. Thus, one goal for a technical-support agent might be to "achieve customer problem resolution on the initial contact at least 80 percent of the time." You might also establish a goal such as "maintain average call time on a monthly basis of 7.5 minutes or less." And, finally, to ensure employees are not going outside company policies to satisfy customers or keep calls short, use a goal like "maintain quality monitoring scores at or above 90 percent monthly."

Exempt Individual Contributors


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Exempt employees who operate as independent contributors rather than managers have different work requirements and different objectives than non-exempt employees and management staff. These individuals may manage projects, analyze business data or create technical documents. Their work is less readily measured using conventional operations metrics, and their success relies more on effective teamwork, organization skill and project management ability.

For a project manager, create a goal like "meet agreed-upon project milestones at least 85 percent of the time." Another goal for such an individual could be "achieve ratings of Satisfactory or higher from project stakeholders at least 90 percent of the time." To incorporate the financial aspect of a project manager's role, which is usually a key outcome for a business, include a goal such as "meet departmental net benefit goals at least 95 percent of the time for implemented projects." While project managers do not always have control over the financial aspects of the processes they work on, they should be held responsible for making the decision to cancel a project that is not in the company's best interest.



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Managers with direct reports are accountable not only for the work they do but also for the performance of their teams. They also have responsibility for specific management tasks, such as supervising employees, handling conflicts and coordinating resource allocation. Managers typically have the authority to change processes and influence or change policies to accommodate changing business needs and customer requirements. Therefore, their goals need to reflect expectations regarding overall business performance in their area as well as the development of their staff. In setting goals for a manager, consider that you are essentially setting goals for the business area the individual runs.

For example, give the manager of a technical support group a goal such as "achieve customer satisfaction scores department-wide of 90 percent or above." To accommodate the employee development component, use an objective like "create and maintain succession plans for at least 80 percent of critical employee positions" or "achieve promotion rate in the top quartile of all managers."