Setting Performance Targets (Criteria for Success)

DISCLAIMER: This data in this section is fictitious and does not, in any way, represent any of the programs at Gallaudet University. This information is intended only as examples.


Graphic image with text, Setting targets is not guessing

Setting a target is not about guessing what you can achieve. It involves knowing where you are now, what you are trying to achieve, and determining challenging but realistic amounts of improvement needed to get there

Set Rigorous But Achievable Targets
If you have a small amount of data you can prepare it by hand. Otherwise, you will probably want to enter the results into a computer to make them easier to summarize and analyze.

Definition

Characteristics

Targets: the desired level of performance you want to see, as measured by indicators, that represents success at achieving your outcome.

Stretch Target: challenging but realistic target should be able to reach with some effort

  • Specific: what you plan to achieve is  clear
  • Measureable: there is a way to determine whether or not you have achieved it
  • Achievable
  • Rigorous
  • Timeframe is specified

 

Tips to Set a Target


Step 1: Define where you are now

Method 1 — Use Historical Data

It can be helpful to use data that your unit has already gathered to establish a baseline, or starting point, for your target.

Example: Below are examples of targets that could have been set based on historical data

Unit Effectiveness Target

Student Learning Outcome Target

50% of the students who enter Gallaudet as a freshman will graduate within six years.

Within three years GU will decrease by 40% the number of undeclared students.

The Anthropology Program will increase declared majors by 10% this year.

Within two years, 80% of students accepted into the Education major will graduate the program and be entitled to a state license.

By Fall 2010, 75% of all units will have established a strategic plan (UAP) with aligned actions and indicators for at least two institutional LRSP goals.

All students are expected to achieve a Proficient level on at least four of the five categories of the Child Study Evaluation Rubric.

80% of graduating students will score a 20 (out of 25) or higher on the Organization criteria of the English rubric.

90% of students will achieve a score of at least 3.5 (out of 5) in all seven of the subscale criterion areas on the Lab Report Rubric by their junior year.

Students entering their senior year will achieve a mean score at or above that of peer institutions for 80% of the discipline’s content test subscales.

NOTE: It's important to carefully evaluate the historical data you're considering using as your target baseline. Look at how the data for a particular period and see whether there has been an abrupt change in performance. If there has been, investigate the reasons for the change. If there were unusual circumstances during that period (such as a recession), the figure may not be a good reference point and you may want to consider using data from a different period to inform your target.

 

Method 2 — Use External Sources

When you do not have historical data, you might consider using information from outside data sources to benchmark, or compare your performance data with those of other comparable universities / departments / programs (an accrediting agency’s standards, IPEDS, etc). Then set targets that seem reasonable in light of the benchmarking information you've gathered.

Example:

Unit Effectiveness Target

Student Learning Outcome Target

Within the next year the XYZ Department will increase by 25% the number of students who pass the Introduction to XYX course.

The ABC Association want member institution’s to have at least 80% pass rate for graduates taking licensing examinations.

Step 2: Define what you want to achieve and by when

Remember, you want to have a delicate balance between challenging and realistic. A stretch target is intended to "raise the bar" enough to inspire your people. But it also must be set at a level at which your direct reports have the skills, knowledge, and company resources required to meet the target.

"Stretch" targets usually requires significant effort to achieve. Ask yourself how much of a stretch will motivate without causing people to become overwhelmed or demoralized.

Example:

Unit Effectiveness Target

Student Learning Outcome Target

Scenario: Enrollment in your program has increased an average of 4% over the past three years

Possible Targets for next year:
5% increase might be a Minimal Target  
6% increase might be a Moderate Target
7% increase might be a Stretch Target
10% increase might be an Unrealistic Target

Scenario: 80% of graduating seniors currently can interpret and analyze a text using different theoretical

Possible Targets for next year:
82% increase might be a Minimal Target
85% increase might be a Moderate Target
88% increase might be a Stretch Target

100% increase might be an Unrealistic Target

Scenario: For past five years we have averaged 80 complaints each semester about network unavailable on campus

Possible Targets for next year:
75 complaints might be a Minimal Target
60 complaints might be a Moderate Target
50 complaints might be a Stretch Target
0* complaints might be an Unrealistic Target

Scenario: 85% of students can apply information literacy concepts to library searches after using HelpDesk services

Possible Targets for next year:
87% increase might be a Minimal Target
90% increase might be a Moderate Target
92% increase might be a Stretch Target
100%* increase might be an Unrealistic Target

Perfection is NOT realistic
*WARNING:
It's important to carefully evaluate the historical data you're considering using as your target baseline. Look at how the data for a particular period and see whether there has been an abrupt change in performance. If there has been, investigate the reasons for the change. If there were unusual circumstances during that period (such as a recession), the figure may not be a good reference point and you may want to consider using data from a different period to inform your target.

 

Step 3: Things to consider

Timeline: Be clear about how long you need to achieve your target. Will you need to set intermediary targets?

Example:

Scenario: Enrollment in your program has increased an average of 2% over the past three years

Possible Target: Increase in enrollment 3% annually so that we have 70 students by 2015

  

 

Resources: Do you have everything you will need (equipment, personnel, processes, workspace, etc.) to achieve the target?

How can it achieved?: Can it be achieved by working harder, more resources, improving a process, an investment in technology?


Adapted from sources below:

Harvard ManageMentor. (n.d.). Gathering Performance Data. Retrieved October 21, 2009 from http://ww3.harvardbusiness.org/corporate/demos/hmm10/performance_measurement/set_targets.html

Phillips, L., Gray, R., Malinovsky, A., Rosowsky, M. (April 2009). The Assessment Report: Documenting Findings and Using Results to Drive Improvement. Texas A&M University Retrieved 10/12/09 from http://assessment.tamu.edu/wkshp_pres/AssessReport_UsingResults.pdf

PMMI Project. (August 2005). Target Setting — A Practical Guide. Retrieved October 21, 2009 from http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=845670

PMMI Project. (August 2005). Target Setting Checklist. Retrieved October 21, 2009 from http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=845670