Objective Setting in 2021
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Shock horror. Your team didn’t meet all of their objectives last year. Who would have thought would be possible?!
In fact, after the home schooling, furlough, sick leave (for COVID as well as mental health concerns), and the huge amount of time it took to get the workforce working remotely, it looks on paper like very little of what was planned was achieved. Or was it?
Does this mean you score everyone poorly as per your process; give them all a warning and put them on a performance improvement plan for the next 3 months? Absolutely not, and if you were thinking along those line, stop right now!!!
Here’s what you should do instead.
1. Draw a line under 2020 and hit the reset button (well perhaps not quite literally!)
2020 was horrendous on many levels. Even for the lucky few companies that have thrived, the emotional and psychological toll of working differently, and without the “crutches” that people have taken for granted such as workmates, managerial feedback, not to mention the fear of illness, death, loneliness or financial doom, has been for some - damaging.
Sure, not everyone will have given 100% to their work but most of them would have had good reason not to. You and your leadership team need to demonstrate to your employees that now as we start a new calendar year, expectations of 2020 have been reset. In other words, while all the hard work and resilience that has been shown will not go unrecognised, failure to meet an objective or dips in efficiency or effectiveness are understood and forgiven.
Take away the fear that they are heading for a disciplinary or something worse, as their job performance has largely been out of their control for the last 12 months and you’ll see an incredible change in their engagement and performance going forwards.
2. Review 2020’s performance in terms of How’s not What’s
If you were to compare a sales manager’s performance last year with previous years, it’s likely that her revenue numbers are down significantly. But of course, there are extenuating factors at play – one of which could be that she normally sells at big conferences or events and none of them took place last year.
Instead of rating her on the numbers alone and comparing year on year, it’s better to look at what was achieved and how it was done. Maybe she had a target of 20 new contracts, and she only secured five.
But to do so, she would have needed a completely different sales approach to get them. How did she do it? Creativity and innovation? What skills did she have to acquire? Resilience, patience, research? Did she find new tools that could benefit others?
This past year has been challenging but it may have led your team to become smarter, more effective and more tenacious in their approach. Make sure you recognise this.
3. Be realistic with 2021 objectives
The vaccine efforts in the UK are inspiring but we are not out of the woods yet and will be dealing with the effects of the pandemic for a few more months at least. Last year, we didn’t have the luxury of knowing a pandemic was coming when we set our team’s objectives, but this year we know the obstacle facing us. This means that while you do want your team to push themselves and help you get the business back to its previous strength as quickly as possible; you do need to acknowledge the challenges ahead. Be realistic in what can be achieved. After all, forgiving failure to meet objectives one year is fine, but twice is not.
4. Create a new section in 2021 objectives to cover the transition back to work
Whether your staff have been on furlough or have been working from home for the past year, that time out of the office will mean that their memory of policies and processes will be a little rusty. In fact, we are sure that they will have formed some new bad habits too!
You should set aside time to re-train them on office rules, standard operating procedures and any other important working practices you expect them to follow. We would always suggest that as a minimum provide a refresher on health & safety on their first day back.
Remember that over the last year your company culture will have changed and it is important to recognise this.
This will ensure your staff return happy and get back into the swing of things as quickly as possible so the pains of 2020, may not be forgotten any time soon but you can all move on in a positive way.
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