A Worthy Performance Goal


This post is for those of you who attended, “Stepping Up to Staffing and Supervision” last week in Atlanta.  Here is my promised description, with examples, of an effective performance goal. (See what happens when you articulate your expectations, set measurable objectives and establish time frames?  People actually step up to meet those expectations . Smile.)

Performance Goals focus a staff member on the priorities of the congregation. They are outcome statements. They provide the staff member with direction about how to channel their energy, encouraging the staff member to grow their area of work in defined and targeted ways over the next six-twelve month period, in accordance with the overall strategy of the congregation.

Goals should NOT be written to encourage employees to step up to meeting basic expectations about their daily performance. If an employee is not meeting basic expectations of performance, you need to address that by clarifying the core competencies and essential functions of the role, and by providing ongoing feedback about how the individual is performing against those expectations. Goals are meant to provide purpose, direction and alignment; beyond the basic daily expectations of the job.

 To be effective, performance goals must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.

Specific:  Goals must be concrete and easily understood. They must tell precisely what the staff member is expected to accomplish.

Measurable:  Goals must measurable or observable (on some level) so that there is clarity about whether the staff member has been successful or not in reaching the goals. Measurable and observable aren’t necessarily the same thing as quantifiable; be creative in the measures that you define.

Attainable:  Goals must not be too difficult or too easy. If the goal is too challenging, the staff member may become frustrated. A goal that is too easy won’t prompt any changes in behavior. Seek to formulate goals that will stretch the staff member, but have a reasonable chance of being accomplished with consistent effort.  

Relevant: The goals of each staff team member must be relevant to the boundaries of the role they occupy. Think about what you are trying to accomplish (e.g. a 15% increase in attendance) and then figure out what part of that goal rightfully belongs to the person for whom the goal is being written.

Time bound: Goals must be bound by specific time parameters and deadlines for completion.

Finally, make certain that your goal passes the “so what” test.  A reasonable person reading the goal should understand why the goal has inherent worth and how it will advance the mission of the congregation.

Some Examples:

  • Enrollment in adult religious education programs will increase by 5% between 1/10 and 1/11.
  • A campus wide signage system will be designed, procured and installed by 8/31/10.
  • Small group curriculum for a church wide initiative on Discipleship will be developed or purchased, approved by the teaching pastors and elders, and ready for use by all small groups in September of 2011.
  • Five new adult leaders will be recruited, trained, equipped and assigned to work with our high school youth, in small group settings, by September of 2011.
  • Congregation members will be surveyed in July of 2011 about their personal practices in bible study, prayer and worship. The results of this survey will be used to benchmark membership practices in anticipation of a year- long emphasis on deepening the spirituality of the congregation.
  • An RFP process will be completed so that a capital campaign consultant is selected and ready to lead a capital campaign beginning in the spring of 2011.

 How many goals should be written for each staff member? Two to three performance goals are plenty. Remember that the performance goals help to sharpen focus and energy, and align the organization. A staff member is expected to fulfill all of the essential functions of the position, satisfy all of the defined core competencies and accomplish all of the performance goals. Two or three goals are plenty to keep the average staff member highly engaged, motivated and challenged.

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