Objective Setting for a PA/EA
As a mentor, I get asked time and time again about objective setting for a PA. Do objectives even matter for a PA?
They most certainly do matter. Whatever you put down gets recorded for your whole career. I’ve known objectives set by a PA when she had just start with a firm come back to bite her in the behind when she was applying for a promotion several years later.
In my opinion, objectives need to show that you care about the firm you work for. They need to show that you really want the firm to succeed. They also need to show that you understand what your company does.
Your objectives can be about you. They can be about you making time to better yourself.
When I'm helping my team set their objectives, the first one on the list will always to learn something. It can be anything - a new language; something about the company; to play an instrument. Learning gives us something to focus on and it gives us a sense of achievement when we succeed.
Often companies hold "lunch and learn" style sessions where someone in the company will take you through either what they do or a skill they have. These are fantastic and one objective could be to attend three or four of these in a year. If you are in a large company, it gives you the opportunity to reach out to someone to ask questions - expanding your network.
Even if you think your proposed skill has nothing to do with your job, personally I would still be very happy for someone in my team to list it as an objective.
Something I always ask myself when setting objectives is “do they add value?”. When I was at school, I remember one of my objectives being set as “carry on as you are”. At the time I thought I was wonderful and brilliant. Now I think back and wonder what I ever had to work towards.
Are you able to set an objective where you are adding value to the firm? Are you able to make a process improvement in any way? I sometimes view objectives a little bit like a political manifesto. If your boss reads them and signs them off, then he has effectively given you the authority to pursue them. Do you have forms that need a physical signature? Maybe you could change process to sign it electronically? Did someone in your team ask you to help out with something that you could look into doing on a regular basis?
I think the main thing to remember here is that to achieve your objective, you need to show that you put every reasonable effort into achieving it. I once spent weeks and weeks trying to put in place an electronic approval system, only for the whole thing to be pulled at the very last minute because of budget cuts. In my view, my objective had been met. I’d found a solution to a problem. It was beyond my control that it could not be put into practice. I could even prove that I’d made efforts to overturn the decision to cut the system.
Do your objectives align with one of the company objectives? Does your company even have a set of objectives?
Ideally every objective you have should feed up into one of the company-level ones. Everyone in the company should be aligned to the overall company strategy.
What would happen if the company goal was to make £100m in the next financial year, yet when you add up all of the targets of the sales team they come to £80m?
What happens if the company goal was to streamline processes and improve efficiency, yet not a single person in the company had an objective that had anything to do with process streamlining? The company would fail at that goal before it's even started.
I’d love to hear what objectives you put down. Do you achieve them? Do you come across obstacles such as red tape or a disinterested boss that prevent you ever achieving them? Do you not bother with objectives and just like to come in, do your job, and go home? Whatever your view, I’d love to hear from you.