Writing Effective Appraisal Objectives

It is important to have goals, targets  and objectives to strive towards, to measure how well we, the team, and ultimately, our organisation is doing. Appraisal is a tool to help organisations effectively manage this process within an organisation and needs to be viewed as supportive, developmental and motivational for all those involved . In the case of schools and colleges, to improve teaching and learning, to support school improvement and subsequently raise standards of attainment. 

Appraisals in education have evolved a long way from DFE legislative introduction, in England, in 2000. There was deemed a need, at the time,  for school leaders to “establish rigorous, fair and transparent systems and measures for managing the performance of all staff, addressing any under-performance, supporting staff to improve and valuing excellent practice” It was initially felt to be an imposed process and therefore there was little motivation and engagement. Over time the process has been more ‘accepted’ with staff becoming more engaged.  

Traditionally, the appraisal process includes:

  • A face-to-face meeting between the manager and staff member to discuss past performance and expectations for the future
  • A review of any previously set objectives
  • Setting new objectives for the staff member to work towards over the next review period. These are linked to individual and organisational needs as well as aligning with the staff members experience and role in the organisation
  • A record of the discussion between manager and employee and an opportunity to suggest any required changes once they have had time to reflect.

This traditional process has evolved to also possibly include

  • Self-reflection - the staff member being asked to answer questions and ‘grade’ their performance, before the initial meeting.
  • 360-degree appraisal - Feedback on the staff members performance is sought from multiple sources, usually a colleague, direct report and non-direct manager or supervisor that the employee regularly works with.

The staff member needs to feel appraisal is a collaborative process and not being ‘done to them’.Successful objectives should communicate the following: 

  • the nature of the objective to be achieved– a verb-object component
  • guidelines for determining if the objective has been achieved - a standards component. 
  • A deadline for completion – a time component 

By following this simple format, it is likely that the objective will meet the SMART or now SMARTER acronym, ( specific, measurable, achievable, relevant , time-limited, evaluative and re- adjustment,) This acronym is familiar to so many, and it has now been faceted in all aspects of our lives, from fitness to life coaching. 

Specific means that objectives are clearly defined and well understood by the staff member and their appraiser – they identify the expected behaviour and outcome in precise terms to whether the objective has been achieved.

Measurable means that it can be decided whether the objective has been achieved by reference to the appropriate evidence.It is impossible for an individual teacher to guarantee that exact percentages will be achieved. Test results can’t simply be linked to standards of teaching; other factors, out of the control of the teacher, are involved, such as family circumstances and levels of parental educational achievement. 

Achievable means that the objectives are realistic and linked to factors within your control – they may be challenging targets but should not be impossible to achieve or be outside your control. 

Relevant means that the objectives are linked to the school, department or the staff members professional development needs. If a particular element of continuing professional development (CPD) is identified as being essential for you to meet your objectives, or to develop strengths and address areas for development or professional growth, make sure this is formally recorded.

Time related means that the objectives have a clear timetable for progress and achievement, with interim actions where appropriate, to help you assess how you are progressing towards them.

Evaluation means that objectives are evaluated. By evaluating regularly there is more of a likelihood to achieve success. The longer the evaluation time period the less likelihood of achieving success. 

Re-adjustment means being prepared to, based on the evaluation, to readjust your approach, method and technique to achieve success. Readjustment doesn’t mean that you have to be not successful with an objective means that different approaches are used to experience success. That’s why constant evaluation on a daily basis is so important. If you don’t evaluate you can’t measure your progress.

If you have ever tried to write objectives for yourself or for your team, you will have soon realised that it is actually a challenging task to create the correct wording to get the desired outcome. Increasingly, objectives are not being linked to student results. Examples of these type of objectives could include:

  • Develop and implement a Number strategy to improve students knowledge and understanding on multiplication facts.
  • Make better use of ICT in the classroom to improve the students skill and confidence in using technology to enhance their learning.
  • Consider how pupil groupings in your classroom can improve pupils’ collaboration, implementing any necessary changes and assessing their impact.
  • Develop strategies to increase opportunities for ‘reading for pleasure’ to improve reading skills for your pupils, and begin to assess their impact.
  • Undertake research, such as observing colleagues in your own school and in other schools, to assess how practical resources can improve knowledge and understanding of number bonds.
  • Undertake relevant CPD to develop the positive behaviour of learners.
  • Work with the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) to develop distinctive teaching approaches to support those pupils with Autism.

Once the appraisal objectives have been agreed it is important that staff members are given the opportunity to discuss their performance on an ad-hoc basis - not just at their annual performance review. Make it the norm to discuss performance both formally and informally, ensuring training and development are regularly offered when required.

Avoid “saving up” feedback for the performance appraisal. There should be no surprises, so use the process to celebrate success as well as being developmental. If the appraiser has any concerns about a staff member's performance or behaviour, raise the issue as soon as possible, giving specific examples. 

How can iP support setting appraisal Objectives?

As already mentioned, setting objectives is a large contributing factor to an effective appraisal process.  iP allows you to set objectives in several ways, providing a bespoke fit for each organisation:-

  1. The Line Manager can set the objectives with the staff member at the initial open review face to face.
  2. The Line Manager can set the objectives prior to a face to face taking place, or instead of this meeting. 
  3. Sets of standard objectives for the whole staff/groups of staff or a mix can be ‘pushed out’ to new reviews.
  4. Sets of standard objectives can be pushed out as per option 3, but pushed out in a list for the line manager and/or member of staff to choose the most appropriate. 
  5. Each member of staff can create their own objectives.

As you can see, there are a variety of options. Organisations can choose a combination of solutions to meet their individual needs.  That’s the beauty of iP!

How do I find out more?

To find out how iP could support setting up objectives and appraisals for all staff either call +44 (0) 333 0433 450, book in a support session with your Customer Success Manager or book a free demonstration now.

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