Why are STRETCH Goals such a STRREETCCH to Write?

I finished my mid-year performance review today, and I have to say…

It went really well.

It took all of 10 minutes for my boss and I to review and make modifications to my 18-page performance evaluation (yes, I said 18 pages), and then, we were done.

In the five years that I have been through this process with my company and my boss, this was the fastest that I had ever completed a performance review.

So, why did we finish so quickly?  What was different this time compared to all the other times before?


My Executive VP and I had a clear, mutual understanding of my performance requirements and expectations (as set out for the entire year).  The objectives that we set were clearly articulated, and my tactics — which were reflected in “stepped” performance levels of achievement — were measurable.

All I had to do for my review was document the details of my achievements, have my boss look them over prior to our meeting, and then together, review my accomplishments and discuss the level of performance that I had achieved thus far for each of my objectives.

Easy, right? Well…

It was easy for this mid-year review, but getting those objectives and tactics written was a much more difficult task.  In fact, my boss and I went through several iterations to get them “just right.”  That was the painful part.

Hopefully, what I’m about to tell and show you will make the writing process much easier when it’s your turn.

So, here goes…

When I think of how I write performance measures — objectives and tactics (metrics) — I think in terms of three tiers of information.

Tier 1.  The Goals — the overall aim that our company or program is trying achieve — the end result.  I think of the goals as the overarching umbrella under which objectives and tactics are enclosed.  My company or boss provides the goals.

Tier 2. The Objectives — the list of things that need to be accomplished in order to meet the goals.  These, I develop.

Tier 3.  The Tactics/Metrics — the specific things to be done in order to accomplish the objectives — in other words, the activities, the measures.  These, I also develop.

At the beginning of each calendar year (well, actually around the March timeframe), I develop at least 10 objectives that I need to accomplish by year’s end, based on the corporate goals and those of my boss.  So, not only do I look at the overall goals for our company, I also look specifically at my boss’s goals and objectives.  This ensures that she and I are strategically and operationally aligned.  This step is crucial, as ultimately, I need to know what my boss and our program is expected to accomplish in the current review period — in our case, the calendar year.

Next, I develop tactics that support the objectives that I’ve written.  What specific activities can I do in order to support the objective?

Finally, I “level-set”.  This helps my boss to evaluate my achievements.  Have I met expectations?  Have I exceeded them? Have I gone above and beyond them?

Here’s how I structure those tactical levels….

Level 1 Tactics/Metrics, Meet Expectations — Status quo.  These are the things that I’m expected to do as part of my job.

Level 2 Tactics/Metrics, Exceeds Expectations — Status quo + a little extra.  These are things that I’m expected to do as part of my job. Plus, I throw in one or two ways to do them better, faster, or more efficiently.

Level 3 Tactics/Metrics, Far Exceeds Expectations — Status quo + a little extra + above and beyond. These are things that I’m expected to do as part of my job, plus, what I’ve thrown in to do my job better, faster, or more efficiently. Then, I add in something that would be considered above and beyond the call of duty,  an unexpected activity — sort of the “icing on the cake,” if you will.

So, here’s an example of how I’d  structure my objectives and tactics, based on the goals of my boss and/or company…

COMPANY / BOSS’ GOAL:   Facilitate excellent communication with the program stakeholders.

OBJECTIVE:   Exhibit high degree of professionalism through effective interpersonal and customer relation skills as set forth by the values of the organization and the program mission.

Level 1 TACTICS/METRICS — MEETS EXPECTATIONS:  Deliver news and information to customers in a mutually agreed upon time period and handle routine inquiries.

Level 2 TACTICS/METRICS – EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS:  Same as level 1, plus create a departmental newsletter based on customer and my team’s feedback, to be distributed on a quarterly basis.

Level 3 TACTICS/METRICS – FAR EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS: Same as level 2, plus distribute the departmental newsletter each month by the end of the first week of the month, or within a mutually agreed upon monthly timeframe.

That’s it.  Easy, peezy…

See, stretching isn’t so bad.  In the end, it actually leaves you feeling pretty good.

It just takes a little time, thought, and good communication with your boss to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Feel free to share this with your friends and colleagues, and let me know if it helps at all.

Good luck!

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