Skip links

How to Track Goals for Effective Performance Management

Setting objectives and key results is a great way to establish your ambitious goals and break them down into their manageable – and measurable – components. But if you aren’t regularly and consistently tracking these goals, your company’s performance may fall short of expectations.

Here’s how you can make the most of your performance management tools  to make sure your goals are effectively tracked, remaining relevant and aligned to your company’s core mission.

Establishing transparent quarterly objectives and key results which express shared goals allows contributors to see the effect they are having on the company’s goals, while engaging them and giving them extra motivation to succeed.

Tracking these OKRs in a performance management system gives employees access to their direct reports and bosses, as well as connecting them with colleagues with shared professional interests. Frequent and visible status updates presented to employees on a digital dashboard allow goals to be tracked, edited and scored in real-time.

Here are some of the key tactics to consider to make sure you’re successfully tracking your goals.

Assign an OKR Shepherd

Assigning someone (or several people, depending on the size of your company or the number of projects) the role of overseeing the implementation of your company’s OKRs at all levels helps align employees and teams while keeping the goals clear in everyone’s minds.

An OKR shepherd, designated at the point of a goal’s conception and assigned to an employee in a position of leadership (for instance the Chief Operations Officer or the head of a team), brings team members into line, tracking and adjusting goals when necessary and ensuring employees remain focused on meeting their targets.

Use visual aids on your goal management platform

Peter Drucker explained in his book, The Effective Executive, “Without an action plan, the executive becomes a prisoner of events. And without check-ins to reexamine the plan as events unfold, the executive has no way of knowing which events really matter and which are only noise.”

Using visual aids into your performance management tracking system is an effective way to ensure that your goal priorities are always clear to your teams, presenting frequent opportunities for updates and check-ins. Allowing users to assign colour codes to goals (for instance, green for on track, yellow for requires attention and red for failing) helps to keep your focus continually on what matters via real-time updates to your dashboard.

Share your goals with peers

Using a system which allows employees to record goals, monitor progress and share them with colleagues is likely to significantly improve their goal achievement rate. A study by Gail Matthews from the Dominican University of California, demonstrated that writing down and sharing goals via weekly updates increased the rate of success to 70%, compared to just 35% goal attainment from those who kept their goals to themselves.

Use your performance management tool to better facilitate the sharing of goals and updates across the company and encourage regular check-ins to address issues and, if necessary, modify OKRs.

Score your goals

Legendary management consultant W. Edwards Deming reportedly said, “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” With this in mind, assigning scores to your goals is another way to measure whether or not you are on track to meet them.

Companies such as Google use a simple 0 to 1.0 scale to measure their performance. For example:

0.1 to 0.3 – red flag (failure to make progress)

0.4 to 0.6 – yellow flag (progress short of expectations)

0.7 to 1.0 – green (goal achieved)

With ratings assigned to a goal’s associated key results, the average percentage of your objectives can be scored, allowing you to track your goals at various levels of focus.

Integrate self-assessment

Pairing objective data with a subjective approach to self-assessment is essential for bringing an extra layer of nuance to your performance management goal tracking. Giving employees the opportunity to grade their own performance can help them to better understand what areas need improvement, as well as providing managers with contextual feedback.

More specific problems such as slumps in markets, issues with supply lines and other extenuating circumstances which wouldn’t be reflected in raw data, can be also included to help flesh out your goal tracking even further. Combining this with the other methods outlined is a sure way to optimise your performance management goal tracking.