University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources
http://www.umn.edu/ohr
612-625-2016

Document and Communicate Responsibilities, Goals, and Objectives

Document Job Responsibilities

Job responsibilities are best documented and outlined in job descriptions. These descriptions are living documents and include task, duty, and responsibility lists, qualifications, reporting relationships and titles, and dates of creation and/or revision.

Job descriptions are valuable communications tools for supervisors and staff members. They help to:

  • Define the job and expected results
  • Select the best qualified candidates
  • Determine the best processes to accomplish tasks and projects
  • Establish performance objectives and goals
  • Identify knowledge, skills and abilities to select and develop
  • Reward employees equitably and appropriately

Writing a Job Description

Establish Performance Standards, Goals and Objectives

Performance Standards

The supervisor is responsible for defining and communicating performance expectations, which can be defined as the work responsibilities and tasks that an employee is expected to perform. The performance standards are best described as the expected result, product, or outcome of the work responsibilities and tasks that an employee performs. Performance standards may also be related to behavioral criteria pertinent to the assignment (e.g., working collaboratively, negotiating style).

Performance standards can be defined with the SMARTS model:

  • Specific: with enough detail to be clear
  • Measurable: use quantitative goals when available, use milestones, use thoughtful judgments
  • Attainable: realistic in terms of employee's control, timeframe, and resources available
  • Reasonable: realistic in terms of what can really be achieved
  • Time-based: with dates set for achieving milestones, results, completion
  • Stretch: challenging to achieve beyond the current levels, "raise the bar"

For example:

  • "Deliver professional seminars according to departmental training standards"
  • "Departmental filing is kept current. Record requests are filled within one hour."
  • "Build and maintain positive and effective working relationships with clients."
  • "Deliver professional seminars, according to departmental training standards. Seminars should meet or exceed training goals."
  • "Tests are performed accurately."
  • "Departmental filing is kept current. Record requests are filled within one hour."

There are various times at which it is important to communicate performance standards: When a new employee starts the job; at the start of the performance year; when job responsibilities change; and when coaching will help an employee's performance.

Performance Goals and Objectives

Statements of results and how to get there. Describes the condition that will exist when the desired outcome has been achieved.

Examples include:

  • "Complete the employee orientation booklet by March 31, incorporating input from all area supervisors and preparing a content list by February 15 for review by the HR advisory committee."
  •  "Learn desktop publishing techniques to produce the departmental newsletter. Complete training sessions within the next two months and produce a draft of the spring newsletter by March 1."
  • "Increase number of tests performed daily from 5 to 7. Investigate new instrumentation to improve the accuracy of testing and make recommendations to task force to purchase new instrumentation."
  • "By July 1, a new file system for survey responses will be developed and all office staff will be trained to use and understand the system."
  • " Meet with clients monthly, responding to their needs, addressing their concerns, explaining policies and assisting them with problem solving."

Communicate Responsibilities, Goals and Objectives

By communicating performance standards, you will be able to obtain desired results/outcomes, improve an employee's performance, and develop new skills. When you do meet to discuss these expectations, standards, and goals, meet in a quiet place without interruptions and have the job description and objectives in hand. Be sure to discuss the expectations with the employee and confirm that the employee understands the tasks and responsibilities of the position.

  1. Meet in a quiet place without interruptions
  2. Have the employee's position description as well as unit's business plan and/or objectives at the meeting
  3. Talk with employee about expectations,
  4. Confirm that employee understands the tasks, responsibilities of the position
  5. Ask the employee for comments, suggestions on performance standards
  6. Finalize performance standards with employee, confirm the employee's understanding
  7. Define performance standards at each level of performance, e.g., meets expectations, exceeds expectations.