Performance Manage People

by Paula Newton

Meeting your own set objectives

Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.

Ralph Marston

In addition to managing the performance of other team members, your management of your own personal performance is critical. It is essential to ensure that you are also performing to a high standard, meeting your set objectives and contributing to the effective running of the business. As well as working with your manager to understand the importance of your goals and to achieve them, you can coach yourself to improved performance. In addition to helping you to feel positive and motivated, your team also needs a good role model to observe.

See the Coaching Yourself topic for more ideas.

Managing upwards

To meet your set objectives effectively, you may need to learn the art of Managing Upwards. Managing upwards can sometimes feel a little uncomfortable, as it often involves explaining to your manager that a request is unreasonable, or that you don’t understand what is required.

If you don’t understand what is required of you, it is important that you ask questions until you do. If at first you don’t get an answer that helps you to move forward, try asking the question in a different manner, perhaps using different wording, or try repeating back to your manager what you think is expected of you, to check that it matches with their understanding and requirements.

If your set objectives are unreasonable, you need to ensure that your manager is aware of that. You also need to be sure that you are not misunderstanding what is required of you and assuming that more is needed than is actually the case. If your targets genuinely are unreasonable or unrealistic, you will need to communicate this effectively to your manager at the earliest opportunity. A goal might appear realistic at the time that it is set, but as the task unfolds it may turn out to be much more challenging than previously realised. And of course other factors may stand in the way of you achieving your goals, such as managing a crisis situation or losing staff.

Communicating an inability to meet objectives to your manager can be a bit scary. However, it is an essential part of managing your own performance effectively. You don’t want to appear to be someone who says, ‘I can’t’ on a frequent basis, so try to word your issues with care, so that it doesn’t come across in that way. Present your manager with the evidence or with reports that support what you want to say, and try to finish on a positive note.


I will not be able to meet the deadline of Friday for the full report because four members of staff have been absent unexpectedly and I have had to fill in for them so that sales don’t dip; however, I can provide you with some headline bullet points that should give you everything that you need for your meeting with the CEO.

In the above example, you will have reassured your manager that you are prioritising effectively (you don’t want sales to drop), but that you are still doing everything that you can to get the information that they need in time for their meeting. Ending ‘I can’t’ conversations on a positive note of ‘This is what I can do,’ will usually go a long way towards easing your situation. In effect, you may need to ‘coach’ your boss on the art of delegation by asking questions so that your boss follows the necessary steps. See Delegation and also Assertiveness.

You will also need to be able to coach your own team to follow this style of behaviour, so that everyone is working in the most constructive way that they can.

Not meeting targets

If you think that you are not going to meet your targets, it is important to communicate this to your manager straight away. You will need to analyse what went wrong and re-plan the timescales and/or deliverables accordingly. You should encourage your team to work in the same way as you in this regard.

Your manager will not want to be surprised at the last minute with a missed objective. With enough warning, contingency plans can be activated. You do have contingency plans, don’t you?

If a target is not met, it is important to understand why, so that both the goal-setting process and your performance can be improved. The most likely reason is that the goals were not SMART, probably because they were not realistic or achievable within the set time frame. If you can’t achieve your objectives, this can affect your confidence and your subsequent performance may suffer, so it is important to get it right.

It is also important to consider events in a constructive way and to learn from what has happened. This is one of the most effective ways of learning. If at first your team do not achieve a goal, there is something that can be learned from that. Brainstorming until you all understand the nature of the problems and how they could have been better handled can turn what could have been a negative and frustrating experience into a positive and proactive action plan.

Meeting targets

When you meet your targets, allow yourself to feel good for a minute. Step back and consider what you have achieved and how far you have come. Pat yourself on the back; you deserve it!

As for your team or individual employees, don’t forget to tell them what a great job they did in helping you to meet your target and thank them. Your team needs to feel appreciated and that it was worth meeting the goal. Don’t rest on your laurels or allow your team to do so for too long – make sure that you set new targets quickly, building up and maintaining the momentum of success so that you continue to manage the performance of your staff effectively.