Goals to Performance Review: Getting the rating

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

May 07

If your company practices SMART Goal setting – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound – then achieving your goals should directly lead to a performance review rating.

The trick is to define the goal to a rating for the goal on the performance review.

If you have a rating system of 1-5 where “1” is horrible and “5” is outstanding, you should be able to tie your goal to your rating.

If “3” is making your goal, then the goal rates a 3 on the performance review.

If you exceeded your goal, then you should get a “4” or “5” on the performance review.

A rating example

Suppose your goal is this: In three months, reduce errors in coding as measured by Unit Testing with the previous three month period as the baseline, by 5%.

This goal would match up nicely with the SMART Goal setting process. Now, let’s apply this goal to our performance review.

Reaching the goal is a “3” – meeting expectations. Your baseline was defined and if your errors reduced by 5% from that number in the three months, then you meet your goal.

But, if you want to get a “4” exceeds or “5” outstanding, what should the accomplishment be for the goal?

Working with your manager, you work through the projects and complexities and work on two variables: the time element and the error rate. You could get to a five-percent decrease in errors faster than the three months. Or, you could get a greater decrease in errors in the three months. Or, you could get fewer errors AND get the reduction faster than the three months.

For discussion purposes, your “4” rating could be “reducing the errors by 6% – 8% in the three month period.” And your “5” rating could be “reducing the errors by >8% within two months.”

As long as you have a SMART goal, it is easy to have these discussions with your manager and for both of you to decide what your rating should be before the performance review. In your monthly discussions with your manager, you can also easily review the status of each of your goals and know what rating you should receive.

Ratings go both ways

Where some people shy away from these types of clear performance measures, though, is when the ratings go the other way.

As well as defining what exceeds the goal, you also have to define ratings that don’t meet the goal. In our example, a “2” rating could be “reducing the errors by <5% to 3% within the three months.” And a “1” rating as “a reduction in errors of <3% within the three months.”

Cubicle Warriors are not afraid of fair and collaborative goal setting and performance. The performance review without the fair and collaborative part is open to question, or course. But without those two key ingredients, management won’t get the employee engaged in the work. But that’s a different subject…

Do you have measurable goals? What’s the most interesting way to measure a goal have you experienced?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.