Behavior-Based Goals: Apply Them to Performance Management

Posted by Julie • August 4, 2016 (Last modified July 29, 2020) • 3 min read

When it comes to setting goals, often we are hung up on the numerical progress. Think: increase customer sign ups by 10%. Though that train of thought is important to the success of a goal list, Employees are motivated by more than just numbers on a page (including the infamous paycheck). Not to mention the fact that some goals simply cannot be quantified.

How then do you set goals for behavioral change such as communication or interpersonal skills?

Begin with Your Secret Weapon: Performance Reviews

Behavior-based goals are a little trickier than other goals. They take a great deal more communication and explanation than those that are numerical-based. Luckily, managers have a tool perfect for these situations. The performance review should always be a time of feedback and goal alignment, but a behavior-based goal is reliant on this meeting. An email will never fully describe what action you want to see your employee perform. And, worst-case scenario, it can even leave the wrong tonal impression, disengaging the individual.

Don’t be confused in thinking behavior-based goals are only necessary when a bad habit is forming or already formed. The point of these objectives can be far more pleasant, such as when you hope to cultivate a new leader or facilitate skill development for career progression. In the performance review, give a well-rounded explanation that answers these questions:

  • What situation has brought about the need for this behavior-based progression or change? (Example: You are a great leader when working with small groups. I noticed it specifically on the latest sales campaign with your particular email workflow ideas.)
  • Why the progression or change should happen? (Example: I think you show great leadership capabilities and we are really in need of someone who can take action in situations just like that. I am interested in seeing you become a manager by the next performance review in 2 months.)
  • What you would like to happen to begin the progression or change? (Example: In order for this to happen, I would like you to attend the leadership conference in 2 weeks and lead the team in a new digital business development process.)

Measure with Observation and Feedback

In addition to all the above information, it’s important to discuss the means by which you will be gauging progress and change. No goal can be accomplished with measurements and metrics, not even behavior-based goals. Again, it’s a bit more challenging to hone in on the specifics. The best way to approach any situation is by considering what end result you will need to see in order to feel that a change or progress has been made.

With number-based goals, we often see a time frame and number. The metrics of behavior-based goals are far more closely related to observations and feedback, which can often feel daunting for managers. Luckily, you have yet another tool in your performance management toolbox perfect for this situation: feedback. Always be observing the actions of your employee and jotting down their progress. To be most effective, pass those observations on to the employee in real-time through frequent feedback either via short meetings or email. Tools like 360-degree reviews of employees shine some light on the areas you as a leader cannot see as clearly, giving you a complete picture.

When it comes to business, performance cannot always focus on hitting desired numbers and dream percentage changes. It’s a little more human than that. Begin forming and achieving behavior-based goals with strategic performance management.

Do you have the right employees, but the wrong process for managing their performance? Take a look at the performance management toolkit Trakstar offers. Drop us a line and we’ll prove how much we have to offer your company.

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