If you ask a sampling of employees, "What are your top three priorities for which your manager holds you accountable?," would they know? Or would they guess?
You get what you measure. But you also get what you prioritize. Furnish workers with a simple, numbered list of performance objectives that matter most and you take the guesswork out of how they allot their time.
Some managers balk at setting priorities for their direct reports. They figure it's a form of micromanaging—or they're just too busy to think through the critical tasks that each employee needs to complete.
The process gets easier if you enlist their help. Collaborate with each individual on his or her overriding goals and responsibilities. Then translate those objectives into performance priorities that dictate the amount of time and attention required to meet and exceed your high expectations.
Say your marketing aide writes a company newsletter, meets with prospective customers, devises ad campaigns, oversees public relations initiatives, and conducts surveys and community outreach. Sit down together and review these activities. Rate each of them based on your two biggest goals of raising your organization's visibility in key markets and cultivating relationships with "key influencers" who can boost your firm's credibility and open doors for business opportunities.
With these two goals in mind, you and your marketing employee may decide that his top three priorities are to strengthen media relations, develop targeted advertising to reach specific markets, and host exclusive community events and invite influential VIPs to attend.