By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, MEP, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission, and Chair of the IAEM-Global Communications Work Group
This month we continue our discussion of the certification examination topic of Planning. In November, we discussed Part 2 of the Planning topic, with an emphasis on Resource Needs Assessment followed by an analysis of a couple of examples of examination questions. This month we will
discuss Part 3, with a focus on Performance Objectives.
Emergency managers often work with both goals and objectives and sometimes get them confused. To refresh our memories, goals are broad general statements that indicate desired results or an end state. Objectives are specific actions that lead to achieving the identified goals and are translated into activities and procedures.
We use both goals and objectives for various activities throughout our emergency management program – prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation – and should be somewhat familiar with the process. But let’s see what the standard calls for us to know and do.
NFPA 1600 version 2013 requires all entities to “establish performance objectives that address the results of the hazard identification, risk assessment, and business impacts analyses.” The standard also requires the entities to “define and address both short term and long term needs.” So there are two components to this topic – well-developed performance objectives that meet our program’s short- and long-term needs.
Performance objectives, when linked to human performance, assist us in measuring and evaluating our program to determine if we are achieving our program goals. Without well-written performance objectives, it is impossible to measure and evaluate performance against established criteria to determine if the performance meets expectations. To make this possible, our performance objectives should contain three essential parts: performance that is observable and measurable; observable conditions, and specific criteria.
One common method we use to develop performance objectives is called the SMART method. According to NFPA 1600 version 2013, the SMART method is defined as the following.
Our performance objectives should be developed following the SMART method so they are effective and usable for evaluating performance and the attainment of our established program goals.
The first thing we need to do to develop short- and long-term performance objectives is to define exactly what we mean by short- and long-term. Simply, short-term means a short period of time. It could be weeks, months, or a couple of years.
Long-term means a longer period of time, which could be a few years to more than 10 years. Different entities define short- and long-term
differently within these general guidelines. They could even further differentiate with mid-term, meaning more than short-term, but less than long-term. Oftentimes, entities will define short- and longterm by fiscal years. That is OK too.
NFPA 1600 version 2013 does not specify how long each is, but does state the entity must define it. Once the entity defines what short-term and long-term time frames mean, the second step is to develop short-term and long-term performance objectives. NFPA 1600 version 2013 provides us with some examples of short-term objectives.
Short-term objectives “might include ‘stabilize the incident’ and ‘support entities that are responding to and stabilizing the incident,’ while long-term objectives might include ‘prevent environmental damage’ and ‘comply with regulatory requirements.’”
Notice these are generic objectives and do not follow the SMART format. You need to develop effective and appropriate short- and long-term objectives that follow the SMART format so you may evaluate your emergency management program.
For core examination purposes, candidates should know the difference between goals and objectives, the difference between short- and long-term objectives, and how to identify objectives that follow the SMART format. Here are two core-type questions for our analysis in this article.
That completes our discussion of Planning. Next month we begin a new topic area of Implementation with a focus on Common Plan Requirements. We also will analyze some practice exam questions. Please send any questions you have about the examination or the certification process to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will address them in future articles.
IAEM Bulletin, March 2016
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