Why multiple sub-goals drive your performance rating to average

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Your performance review and rating is important — it drives your salary and bonus, if you have the ability to get one. When it comes to performance, then, one strives to not be average — meets your goals — but to exceed so as to get a better salary increase and better bonus.

When you sit down and look at your goals, you’ll typically see 4-6 goals to meet. Pretty straightforward, right?

Not really.

When you get into the details, you see sub-goals associated with the larger goal. Instead of 4-6 goals, you really have 12-30 goals. Count all of those sub-goals up and it starts quickly adding up.

Too many goals ruin your focus

I hope you all know that multi-tasking ruins your productivity because you really are not multi-tasking, you are switching tasks and switching costs you productivity. Well, get too many goals on, and it’s impossible to serve all the masters at once.

Studies have shown that the human brain can handle two complicated tasks without too much trouble because it has two lobes that can divide responsibility equally between the two. However, adding a third task can overwhelm the frontal cortex and increase the number of mistakes you make.

Now imaging going into your job — difficult to stay focused as is — and then understand how all that fits into 20-30 goals on your performance review. You really can’t.

You can’t be great at everything

This is straightforward, right?

For example, I’m a project manager. But I’m not a construction, software, medical, testing, or architecture project manager. No, I’m a technology infrastructure project manager.

I’d be a terrible construction project manager. We specialize. And even within our specialty, we’re better at certain parts of our work than other parts.

With performance goals, I’m better at some than others. You’d hope that the goals I get for the performance review would be goals associated with the strengths I have in my work, not my weaknesses.

But when you get 20-30 goals in your performance review through sub-goals, there is no way you can Exceed at all of them. Or even the vast majority of them.

Outside of it not being in your wheelhouse in terms of job skills and what you like doing on the job, you simply can’t do 20-things at once or keep that in your head.

And your Exceeds rating goes along with it.

Significant business results are hard to come by with 20-30 goals

The best way to show your performance is to tie business results to your goals. The way to show you Exceed in the goal is to show better business results because of what you did.

Coming up with business results is not easy — it requires asking good questions about the aspects of your work as well as consistently documenting the results so you can put them on the review.

Now try getting business results — much less Exceeds business results — on 20-30 goals.

Because you can’t get Exceeds business results across all the different goals, it drags your performance review rating down.

Three quick takeaways:

You can't focus on too many goals

You can't be great at everything

You can't get enough business results for too many goals to get to an Exceed rating

There is no easy answer with too many goals

Early on, you can try and limit the number of goals on your performance review. That only works if you have any input into your goals in the first place as company management will often set the goals for you. As part of the “cascading” goals so that you are operating as one happy company.

In the meantime, you can try and document your accomplishments where you can and get as good results to document.

But it is a tough slog to do, but necessary if you hope to hit Exceed on your review.

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