Headshot of a smiling woman with shortish hairDana Aubin and Trish Grindereng, Comtech Services
February 1, 2023

With the start of a new year, it’s the perfect time to think about setting team goals. At January’s CIDM roundtable, we had a great discussion about the diverse ways companies set performance goals and conduct reviews.

Some companies use traditional goal setting where performance planning and reviews are an annual event with goals set at each level of the business and cascaded down. However, other companies are trying different strategies to evaluate employees, which enables goals to be set more frequently and allows for adjustments to changing business demands.

Most members at the round table have worked with the goal-setting framework, Objectives and Key Results (OKR). One member explained how their company has been using OKR for about three years and that during that time the OKR review process has evolved to keep a structured process using software tools at the senior management level and a less formal approach for other employees. Another member uses elements of OKR in their performance planning process from the team level and up (individuals do not set performance goals). In that company, importance is placed on ensuring that each level’s goals complement or align with the level above.

Another member’s company is using a nine-box performance grid that is reviewed monthly instead of annually. The nine-box performance grid has a vertical axis that measures potential and a horizontal axis that measures performance. The company’s goal is to show each employee’s potential and recognize their breadth of performance and quality. Employees with narrow skillsets who are good performers may be fine in their current roles, but employees with broad skillsets may be able to use their talents in other areas of the company. The CIDM member explained that managers meet with each of their employees monthly to discuss a set of questions and place the employee on a grid that uses descriptors rather than numbers. Then they can talk about how the employee can shift toward the upper right. The grid also gives managers insights into the skills that an employee wants to develop and helps the manager to be aware of opportunities for that employee. They stated that other advantages of this monthly goal-setting process are that it allows for fluid goal-setting and that goals can flow both up and down levels. The other CIDM members in the roundtable were interested to hear more and had questions that could not yet be answered because the process is new at the company, so they requested updates when the member has more experience with it.

Regardless of the process or tool, all the managers favor goal setting and reviews that are simple and do not put an undue burden on their teams. Performance planning should help the company meet its business goals and help to retain employees by giving them opportunities to grow, increasing their job satisfaction.