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Objective setting

By working together towards the same shared objectives, we can achieve great things, both for the University as well as our own personal development and career progression.


The My Contribution timeline and key activities consist of:


  • Objective setting, where you are asked to define SMART objectives for the next academic year and discuss this with your manager. This is due in August and September each year
  • Mid-Year review, where you are asked to have a formal review meeting to discuss progress with your line manager. This is due in January and February each year
  • End of year review, where you review and discuss your performance over the last year, with both the team member and line manager providing feedback and a rating for achievement of objectives. This is due in June and July (at the end of the academic year)


During your Objective Setting meeting, you’ll set performance objectives (My Review) to help you understand what part you’ll play in supporting the University to achieve its goals and ambitions. Your own career aspirations are discussed, and personal development objectives (My Development) are also set at this time. These objectives form an important part of your working life at Edinburgh Napier and, as a University, we’re committed to supporting you achieve your objectives.


Your objectives should be linked to Edinburgh Napier’s values​ and Leadership Behaviours and be built around our strategic priorities​Your line manager should have shared the departmental plan with you in order to link your objectives to the department’s objectives. 

It’s recommended you set a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 8 performance objectives per academic year (these could be a mix of individual and team objectives). In terms of personal development objectives, we recommend you set a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3 personal development objectives per academic year. 

You may want to set shorter-term objectives (e.g. for a period of a few months rather than the full year). That way you could end up with more than 8 performance objectives which is fine; there is no limit to the number you can add on the system.

What is a SMART objective?

Using the SMART approach to write your objectives will help you complete them successfully and on time.


Specific – providing clarity and being unambiguous about the result you are aiming for (which is often different to what is happening currently), and understanding why this goal is important. Specific is about describing details of the change you want to see by mapping out an inspired vision of the future


Measures of success – knowing when you have achieved your goal by specifically articulating your measures of success


Achievable and agreed – objectives should be achievable by being stretching enough to motivate you, but not too difficult to achieve


Relevant and realistic – the objective should align to the University and School/department plans to make it relevant. Realistic is making sure you discuss any reasons with your line manager which might make the objective difficult or unrealistic for you to achieve.


Timed – objectives should have a deadline as, without one, goals have a habit of slipping or being re-prioritised. Set review dates before the final deadline to make sure you’re on track and get any support you need. If objectives span over more than one academic year, make sure you capture what elements of the overall objective will be delivered in the current year.​

For more guidance, view the 
Guidance on Setting SMART Objectives document.


Examples can be found here:

Professional Services examples​

School/Academic examples​

The business school developed a structure​ to support their colleagues in the objective setting process, with the aim to develop consistency around number / type of objectives and enhance the quality overall, this could guide and support the objective setting activities for academics / schools.​

Preparing for your meeting


Guidelines for planning your objective setting meeting include...

1) For performance objectives, consider the following:

o    Review what priorities were successfully completed last year and identify what could be a priority this year

o   Review the university strategic objectives and your School/department plan that supports their achievement

o    Draft own SMART performance objectives based on your role and department priorities

o    Identify whether the objective would be an individual objective or a team objective

§  Individual objective - a performance objective unique to you

§ Team objective - a performance objective which is shared among different colleagues working in the same area and (similar) role


      2) For personal development objectives, consider the following:

o    Identify your current strengths, development areas and capability

o    Identify your career aspirations; research/analyse the knowledge, skills and capabilities required to move towards your future career objectives. For our academic colleagues, also consider the Academic Appointment & Promotions Framework​​​ and what specific actions you would need to take to develop your academic profile

o    Refer to the Leadership Behaviours or our values  

§  when you define your strengths and development areas

§  when you define what development you may need to deliver your performance objectives

o    Draft own SMART personal development objectives based on your career aspirations and personal development    

      3) Discuss your aims and suggestions with your line manager.


      4) Discuss what support you may need to achieve your performance and personal development objectives.


      5) Consider how long it could take to achieve the objectives. Some objectives (in particular those in relation to personal development) may take longer than 1 year to complete. Make sure you break the objective down into shorter milestones or tasks and identify key deliverables for a specific academic year.


      6) Complete the online form ahead of your meeting with your line manager.

We’ve created short ​support videos to show you how to: 

Add objectives

Create progress updates to objectives  

 How to find and print previously completed performance review forms

How to save and print objectives​

If you prefer, we have also created simple step by step guides to show you how to complete the system activities:

 How to add objectives in the system

 Create progress updates to objectives  

 How to find and print previously completed performance review forms​

• How to save (PDF) and print objectives​​​

If you are a line manager, these support videos show you how to:

How to view your team member's objectives

 ​How to get a PDF document of your team member's current objectives

If you prefer guide, we have the following system guide available:

 ​How to get a PDF of your team member’s current objectives ​


Use the offline template for objective setting if you would like to prepare the sections and questions you need to complete in the system in advance.


For further support, training and guidance on Objective Setting and the My Contribution process, please visit our My Contribution Support, Guidance and Training Page​.