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Guidelines for Setting Goals & Objectives

Goal setting sets the stage for the start of the performance management process. Goals are set on a macro level (divisional and departmental basis), as well as with teams or individuals. These goals should be reviewed throughout the year to assess their status. The Performance Management Program at Rensselaer suggests that Division and Departmental Goals be shared with employees within the areas they work. With these goals in hand, employees and managers can work together to develop individual goals for the year ahead. By setting individual goals, employees are able to see more clearly how their individual role and performance contributes to the overall mission of Rensselaer.

The role documentation, which includes the competencies and skills required for the position, together with annual goals, provides the foundation for effective ongoing performance discussions.

Step One: Gathering Data
Data to set goals at Rensselaer can be gathered by reviewing the Rensselaer Plan and the portfolio Performance Plan, budgets, staffing, skills required to achieving them. They should be arranged in order of largest to smallest, identifying divisions, departments, and individuals who are accountable for each.

Step Two: Development of Major Goals (1-3 only)
Using the information gathered above, the goal should be described in one to two sentences. The overall schedule for accomplishing and completing this goal should be described. Include in this a description of the tools and resources which will be used to achieve the goal (the how). This helps develop the individual goals of the various people who will be involved and accountable for the result. Be sure and be clear where the final accountability rests. Describe the expected results – how do you know when it is done? Be as specific as possible.

Step Three: Development of Employee’s Objectives in Support of Major Goals
Setting individual goals is not the same as a task list. However, if there are specific tasks, which are important to this role and are not outlined in the current Performance Management Tool, they should be described. Determine what two to three objectives/projects the employee must complete in order to achieve this goal. Note the schedule and completion date as well as the tools and resources required to complete this. If the employee has the final accountability for this, it should be stated; if not, list the departments or others who are critical to the success of this goal. Describe the outcome expected for each goal.

Please note: Setting goals should be a joint process between manager and employee. Goals might include acquiring a new skill or developing/improving their performance in certain competency areas. Goals generally change from year to year based on the departmental goals.

Last modified: April 4, 2008
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