Do Your Performance Objectives Set You Up to Win?

The author says that regardless of your role within your agency, having clear criteria for exactly what success looks like in the context of your overall mission is the single most powerful tool you can use to achieve satisfaction at work.

Has this ever happened to you? You sit down to write your input for your annual review and you find yourself staring at a blank page.

Perhaps you met your performance objectives… but you still feel kinda flat and dead inside.

Or maybe the stuff you really rocked isn’t showing up in your performance objectives at all because much of it is absolutely CRITICAL but highly INTANGIBLE.

What’s a person to do?

It’s time to take a look at your Evidence of Success in the workplace.

Whether you are a direct report creating Evidence of Success for your specific role, or a supervisor creating Evidence of Success for your work unit, having clear, concrete, sensory-based criteria for exactly what success looks like in the context of your overall mission is the single most powerful tool you can use to achieve satisfaction at work.


Because without clear Evidence of Success, team members (or maybe even you!) struggle to know how or if they are moving forward. Confidence, motivation, and resiliency fall off and the downward spiral toward “I hate this job” begins.

On a larger level, without clear Evidence of Success the work unit suffers “mission creep” as they start to take on more things that sound like a nice idea but may or may not actually lead where the unit needs or wants to go. Budgets get out of control, one way or the other, and staff are over-burdened with unproductive “busy-work” often labeled as “bureaucracy”…

And nothing seems to get accomplished. The work unit keeps re-inventing the wheel – with so much focus on process – there is no room for results.

(Quick pause for clarity) “Evidence of Success” is defined as what will actually be present in your environment when you are executing your mission ALL OUT.

Let’s say your office is responsible for purchasing and maintaining vehicles and equipment for your agency. What will be present for you when you are supporting your office in fulfilling this mission all-out? Perhaps it is a public status board showing all equipment fully mission-capable. Maybe it is a personal citation from your organization’s director recognizing fleet modernization in a time of limited budgets. It could be something else. You decide.

The list you create for your role should light you up and get you excited about the unique contribution you provide. Don’t worry about putting things on your list that are “unrealistic” or “would never happen here.”

The important thing is to start making that list and concentrate on living your unique contribution full out. Because when you do, you will begin to recognize other Evidence of Success that you hadn’t even considered.

About the Author

Martha Wilson is a retired CIA Operations Officer, leadership instructor, transformational coach and the founder of Greatness In Government, a leadership and personal development firm that specializes in re-energizing mid-career government employees. Organizations that are struggling with complaints about bad leaders, discrimination, bullying and other symptoms of employee dissatisfaction hire her when they are ready for a fresh approach to leadership training. She also provides private coaching to high-potential government employees who have decided to assume responsibility for their own personal and professional development.