“Now, sitting comfortably pet? Safely strapped in? Let’s just review your progress shall we? What was your objective again?”

“That’s right my angel – walking. Now do you remember what we said about goals?”

“That’s right! Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. SMART goals!”
“Dada, dada, dada!”

“No pet – we’ll get to employee engagement later in the appraisal. For now, we’re going to focus on your progress against the walking goal. So, specific – we’re talking unsupported, bipedal, forward progress – agreed?”

“You’re right pet, it’s going to be amazing. So, second – measurable. How are you faring against that? I think we agreed that 15 steps was the initial target? Now, I don’t want you to get discouraged in any way as I feed this back to you pet. But here’s the thing. I notice that, while you’re zooming around the place good-o, you are still holding on to pieces of furniture.”

“And well you might be embarrassed – you’re almost 9 months old! Now what about attainable and realistic? I think we had agreed – let me just find it on your appraisal form – yes, that you would be walking unsupported at 8 months old. Sounds perfectly realistic and attainable to me. And yet here you are …”

“Almost 9 months and you’re still cruising around the furniture!? Well, I hardly think we need to discuss the ‘Timely’ piece of the goal, now do we?”

“So, obviously, I’m not going to be able to give you a ‘Meets Expectations’ on your appraisal against the bipedal ambulatory goal; we’re going to have to go with a ‘Needs Improvement’ aren’t we? Are you happy with that? Pet? Pet? Why has your face gone red? What’s that appalling smell?”

“Now there’s no need to be like that my little angel. Look, we’ll re-convene next quarter and hopefully we’ll be able to have a more productive discussion …”

Wally Bock makes the analogy beautifully [and in slightly more grown-up terms] here.