How to make objective setting great again

Writing your own objectives or your team’s, should be a great activity that you all feel is a useful, helpful and constructive exercise.   But for some reason it has become a drag and something not useful that gathers dust for a year until the next annual appraisal.  In large organisations this only gets worse as it turns into a ‘HR sanctioned’ activity usually intertwined with an old antiquated HR system! Objective setting has been taken over and turned into something that is a chore and provides little or no value to the people writing it..However help is at hand!

In order to produce a better way of doing this, let’s start by giving our objective setting.. some objectives! In the form of Business and errr ‘Objectivee’ goals

Objectivee Goals (that’s you)

  • This needs be quick and easy to do
  • I want to improve, be better in my career and get a pay rise!
  • This needs to actually help and guide me, and not be a hassle

Business Goals

  • To help teams be aligned
  • To give a tool that helps teams monitor, track and rate performance
  • Encourage people to be grow, reach their potential
  • Provide clear consistent format for line managers to communicate and benchmark team members performance.

In response to these needs, a tool / process I’ve developed as a low-fi test is to create objective setting into an mad-lib style format.  You’ll also note i’ve put in ‘customer goals’.  I belive in order to maintain customer centricity across the business we need to give team members customer and business focused goals as outlined here.


This is an objective for [Business / Customer / Personal]…
Business: conversion, sales, brand loyalty
Customer: I want a simple, easy experience
Personal: Develop communication , leadership, technical skills

…To achieve this I will…
What are first steps you’ll need to do?

…and I’ll know I’ve succeeded if…
What does success look like? What will happen? 

…My objective is.. [Complete, Incomplete, On-going]

…and I was able to…
What did you do? What did you achieve?

…but there were also challenges of…
What came up, perhaps that was out of your control?

…How well did I do it?..
You may of completed an objective but not gone about it in a positive way, i.e. pissed everyone off!

…What was the quality of your output?..
How good was the thing you achieved/produced?

…I could go further by…
This is really important, as it will get you thinking about how could of exceeded your objective.  What else was possible?

and relates to my Manager’s or teams Objective of
This helps with alignment across the team and wider organisation

You can use this template i’ve made in google docs..   So far i’ve tested this format with my teams and had positive feedback.

Feedback and appraisal time
Finally when it comes to appraisal time, one of the activities you’ll need to do is gather feedback. So simply ask your colleagues around how well they think you have achieved each of your objectives. You can always use a google form

Although admittedly perhaps the objective i’ve not hit is “This needs be quick..” but we’ve not found it takes too long, and once the value is made clear to them they seemed happy to give it ago.

I’m hoping this format will also make the appraisal meeting alot clearer as they should be able to articulate how and where they could of gone performed better.