How certain goals force an average performance rating

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Nov 27

Here are the goals that are easy to check off:

  • Completed all mandatory training on time
  • Responded to all risks and issues assigned to you 
  • Supported department initiatives for improvement

Pretty awesome, right? You get to answer with a big, affirmative YES I DID!

And with each one you answered with that big, affirmative YES, you drove your performance review rating down to average -- Meets.

What's the problem with checking off easy goals?

The short answer is this: There is no way that your performance was any better than average. 

Sure, you could be below average and need improvement -- if you didn't complete your training on time, take care of your risks or support department initiatives.

But there is no way you can be better than average. You either meet the goal or you don't.

So the very best you can do is meet your objective. Not exceed it.

I can feel the salary increase slipping away already.

Easy goals present big risks to your rating

When you have goals that can't be more than just met, you have more than a lost opportunity cost because you can't exceed them: you risk lowering your performance review rating even more because if you don't meet the goal, you get a "needs improvement" for it.

And that opens up more possibilities: 

  • A lowered performance rating where you now have no margin of error to achieve a Meets rating.
  • Or getting on a program of some sort because you didn't meet baseline goals (because you were late completing an online training course because you were swamped!).
  • Or creating a perception that you don't get stuff done on time on something that's easy.

So not only can't you exceed these types of goals to improve your rating, you also risk dollars and reputation if you don't meet these goals.

It's a binary goal: you make it or you don't. Not "you knocked it out of the park," but you made it. 

There's only one thing you can do with these goals

Since you couldn't negotiate them out of your performance review, there is only one thing you can do when these types of goals are there: Review your goals often and make sure you complete every one of these "meets only" type goals on time and in a way that's acceptable.

At least you meet your goal and don't get a "needs improvement" for them. 

And accept the fact that there is no way you can Exceed on these goals. 

Yes, it sucks.

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