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What If You Fail to Meet Your Performance Goals?

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I'm pretty sure I'm not going to meet my year-end performance goals at work. My manager and I haven't discussed my goals all year, so this will be a surprise to her. What should I do?

A: First, let me say that your manager is falling down on the job if you haven't discussed your goals all year. But you have some responsibility as well. Even if your manager hasn't initiated a discussion of your goals, you should have kept her informed about your progress or lack of progress. Next time, don't wait!

In fact, do not wait another minute to discuss this issue. Go to your manager's office immediately and ask for an appointment to let her know you're not going to meet your goals. Your goals are most likely tied to hers, so she will be affected.

I hope when you update your manager, she will help you prioritize and get the resources you need to complete the work. That's what a good manager would do.

Even if your manager hasn't initiated a discussion of your goals, you should have kept her informed about your progress or lack of progress.

But I'm not here to dump on your manager. It's your lack of initiative that concerns me. Think about why you didn't speak up earlier. Did you forget about your goals? Is your workload too heavy? Do you think your goals matter to the organization? Do you care about your organization's mission?

Answering these questions should reveal some truths about you and your job. If it turns out that you are overwhelmed with your current assignments, ask for help. Your manager may be unaware that you're struggling, but once she knows, she'll hopefully help you find the necessary resources. Similarly, if you don't have the skills to tackle your goals, you should ask for help. Consider looking for a mentor to help you navigate your work and develop your skills.

However, if the issue is that you think your goals don't matter or that you really don't support your organization's mission, it may be time to consider asking for a transfer to another department or looking for a new job where your skills and interests are a better fit.

In any case, don't wait any longer to talk to your manager. Use the feedback from your self-assessment to have an honest discussion. Good luck!

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected]

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