performance goalsThe clock is ticking and as of now we’re keeping score. Yes, it’s September – the beginning of the end - your last shot at ensuring your team knocks out that bevy of performance goals before your manager and the entire senior leadership team weighs in on your departments’ 2012 performance.  

Now that your summer escape seems a millenia away, it’s time to buckle down and focus on what needs attention in the home stretch. Most organizations conduct their end-of-year performance evaluations in the Oct-Nov time frame, so September is actually one of the most critical months for making significant gains on the top organizational priorities.

To ensure your department finishes the year strong, plan a discussion with each team member to review performance goals and expectations and create tangible action plans. Take these five steps:

  1. Discuss progress made and collaboratively identify the last few key checkpoints that should be put into place prior to the end-of-year performance evaluation period.
  2. Make any necessary adjustments so that the goals are a reflection of the most current team priorities and strategic objectives.
  3. Once again, articulate your expectations for goal accomplishment this year so that there are no surprises come performance review time.
  4. Identify any goals that were not a priority this year and back burner them until 2013. This will help your team members to avoid any distractions and focus his/her full attention on the most critical items.
  5. Similarly, table any performance goals that are in epic failure territory. Although some of these goals may have been important, your direct report is unlikely to make substantial progress in the time allotted and the prospect of failing at such critical goals is likely to be a big distraction from accomplishing those that are closer to completion. That being said, be sure you indicate that there will be a discussion of these goals in the performance evaluation and that he/she will be held accountable for the lack of results. Plan a post-mortem discussion following the performance evaluation period where you can collaboratively brainstorm on what went wrong and how to move forward in 2013.

Finish Strong

performance reviewOnce you have taken the five steps outlined above, make sure to monitor performance on a frequent basis.  In a previous article, Dread Performance Appraisals? Easy Does it With Ongoing Feedback and Coaching, I discuss specific benefits that ongoing performance feedback and coaching can have on ensuring that performance stays on track. Frequent feedback is critically important to ensure that each one of your team members can finish the year strong.

Proactively attending to team goals in September will ensure that direct reports are on track for performance goal accomplishment in the areas that matter most to the department and organization. Further, opening up discussion on performance goals and performance plans will set the tone for the year end performance review meeting and performance planning for the year to come.

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