In order to effectively contributeto the mission of the institution, then every individual working at Lehigh needs to have a clear understanding of what he or she needs to accomplish in the present and in the future. Identifying goals and defining specific objectives is an essential component of setting expectations for each peformance management review cycle. It is helpful to look at goals and objectives from three different viewpoints:
As an institution, we need to coordinate the work of individuals and departments so that everone is working together and in the same direction. Goals and objectives provide the basis for coordinating our collective efforts. The goal setting process provides a mechanism for translating institutional goals into departmental goals and then into individual goals. We call this mechanism “cascading” or “alignment” of goals to reflect the inter-relationship of individual, department, and institutional goals. As goals cascade from top to bottom, they become more narrowly focused and specific objectives can be defined. This is an important concept because the institution can only achieve its goals if the various departments and the individuals within them contribute in effective and meaningful ways.
Goal setting is a process that takes time and effort but is an investment that ultimately pays off in enhanced performance. Well-defined goals and objectives – in conjunction with other performance expectations including key accountabilities, success factors, and priority weightings – provide a set of clear directives to staff members which enable them to work more independently. Goals and their associated objectives also help staff members understand how their individual work contributes to the goals of the department and ultimately the goals of the institution.
Well-defined goals and objectives also make it easier to monitor individual and departmental progress, make adjustments, and proactively address issues before they become problems. Coaching and counseling staff members also becomes easier for supervisors because clear performance expectations have been established. Annual formal performance appraisals also become much easier because goals with clear measures of accomplishment (the objectives) provide the means for more accurate and meaningful evaluations.
Staff Member Viewpoint
As staff members, we want to know several things about our individual roles:
- What do I need to accomplish?
- Why does it need to be done?
- Why am I doing this?
- What are the expected outcomes of my work?
- How will my performance be evaluated?
- How am I doing?
The more we understand our job and our role within the department, the easier it is to contribute in a meaningful way. This knowledge enables us to make better and more independent decisions as to how to organize our time and resources in a manner that is consistent with the priorities of the department. We can track our own progress against our performance goals and decide when to seek input or feedback. Performance goals provide the basis for ongoing discussions with our work team and our supervisor so that we can maximize our work contributions. Well-defined goals can be incredibly motivating. As goals are achieved, our self-confidence swells.