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Practical Application: Setting Performance Goals

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

Many leaders struggle to articulate their expectations of employees in a way that is clear and concise. These three scenarios will guide you through the process of creating, revising, and monitoring good performance goals in a variety of situations.

Setting Performance Goals

Setting good performance goals is a critical part of managing employee behavior, but often there is a significant gap between the goals perceived by a manager vs. the employee. The employee then pursues goals that do not reflect the performance expectations of the manager. There is no meaningful way to improve performance if goals cannot be measured. Becoming adept at goal-setting is, therefore, an essential management skill.

To review the goal-setting process, you can review the lesson What are Performance Goals - Definitions and Examples. Then read the three scenarios below. You'll be identifying good goal-setting practices and assessing some poor goals with an eye toward making them better.

Scenario 1: Unknown Expectations

Kala and Jim are in the education department of a hospital. Three years ago, the facility used a federal grant to purchase two expensive, state-of-the-art patient simulators. Recently, the vice-president for education performed a compliance assessment for all grant-funded purchases to ensure compliance with the conditions of the grant.

When she reviewed the patient simulator grant, it was clear that the hospital was out of compliance. The grant conditions specified that the simulators must be used for more than 2,000 hours every calendar year. The data from Kala and Jim indicated that the use fell short of that in each of the last three years. When asked about this, Kala and Jim were unaware that any minimum-use conditions existed.

  • How would you go about addressing this problem?
  • What kinds of goals would you set for Kala and Jim?
  • How would you communicate these goals to them?

As a response to these questions, create the memo or other document that you would use to communicate the goals to Kala and Jim. Then compare it to the one below and see if you captured the most important parts of goal-setting.

Performance Goals for Patient Simulator Use

Goal Below Expectation At Expectation Exceeds Expectations
The simulators must be used for grant-specific number of hours < 2,000 hrs/year 2,001-2,999 hrs/year 3,000+ hrs/year
The simulators should be used by all clinical departments at least once per calendar year < 3 departments engaged 4-7 departments engaged 8+ departments engaged
To accommodate shift workers, the simulators must have availability for scheduled training overnights and on weekends <100 off-hours scheduled 101-179 off-hours scheduled 180+ off-hours scheduled
The simulators are used during the clinical orientation of all new employees Incomplete Complete N/A
The simulator should be used for the annual clinical check-off for all clinical roles in the organization Incomplete Complete N/A

Scenario 2: The Hospital's Report Card

Abdul is a new clinical quality RN at a 112-bed hospital. His role is to monitor the hospital's performance on all quality measures that must be reported to the public. He was brought in after it became clear that the data mining process was flawed. This resulted in the hospital having reported inaccurate data for the last two years.

Abdul's immediate focus should be on getting accurate data for patient falls, surgical infections, and hospital-acquired pneumonia. As his manager, you're unsure if he knows that these benchmarks should be his immediate priorities.

  • How would you go about communicating these priorities to Abdul?
  • What are the specific goals that might be set for Abdul's performance?

Review the goal-setting documentation below. Analyze it carefully and identify as many problematic elements as you can. Then correct them by creating a new goal-setting document.

Performance Goals for Clinical Quality RN Staff

Expectation Description
Accurate Reporting The IT department needs to help generate reports that can be used.
Priorities Clinical quality RNs should focus on the most important measures first.
Process Make sure every RN documents their methods for use in training new employees.
Outcomes The number of patient falls must decrease with time.

Some of the problems and possible solutions include:

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