The Road Ahead

Our analysis of the major opportunities and challenges facing the voluntary sector in 2024. Learn more

Setting objectives and behaviour standards

This page is free to all

Use this series of pages to help your team maintain and improve their performance at work.

If you manage people, you’ll need to ensure they:

  • understand what is expected of them
  • recognise how they can develop and improve their work.

This page explains how to do these things effectively.

Setting SMART objectives

Setting clear performance objectives for individuals, teams and your organisation is an important part of employing and managing staff.

One way to ensure objectives are clear is to develop them with the people you manage. Ask your team members to draft their own objectives, and then help refine them, to ensure they align with wider team and organisational goals.

Objectives should also be:


Be clear on what’s expected. A good objective will answer the following questions:

  • What needs to be done?
  • Who’s responsible for achieving it?
  • How will it be achieved?


It’s important to think about how you’ll track progress and know when the objective has been achieved. For example, if your marketing team is looking to increase their newsletter readership, how many new sign-ups would quantify success?


All objectives need to be realistic and achievable. One way to ensure this is for both the individual and their manager to set objectives together.

Consider the resource, knowledge and skills required to achieve the goal you’re setting. Do you need to scale back your ambitions?


Think about the bigger picture – how does this objective feed into the team’s and organisation’s strategic goals?


Remember to set a timeframe. When does the individual need to have achieved the objective?

Setting behaviour standards

Alongside performance objectives, it’s important to set clear behaviour standards, so employees know how you expect them to conduct themselves at work.

You could think about setting behaviour standards around:

  • planning
  • communication (with colleagues and service users)
  • teamwork.

Again, it’s important for managers to agree these with the people they manage, to ensure they’re appropriate and understood.

It can be helpful to share examples of:

  • positive behaviour you expect to see
  • negative behaviour your organisation won’t tolerate.

Further information

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 01 August 2022

Back to top

Sign up for emails

Get regular updates on NCVO's help, support and services