Performance Objectives


What are Performance Objectives?

Performance objective(s) (or job performance goals) are used to meet company, department, section, or individual objectives. Clearly determining job performance expectations can help everyone understand what is expected and what the end result should be. The written format of performance objectives can vary widely, but there are some essential factors that all job performance objectives must include, regardless of the written format.

1. Identify the objectives

Identify important job performance objectives

Spend some time thinking about the work that needs to be done. Sit down, meditate, and take some notes. Consider what job performance results are essential to the success of the company. Typically this includes factors such as productivity (how much work is done in a unit of time), cycle time (how long it takes), quality (standard volume error rate), or cost.

  • Identify exactly what a person is expected to do. For example, identify an objective measure (such as producing x appliances per hour with a 98% rate of return). Then focus on the specific knowledge that is needed to meet the expectation.
  • For example, if an employee isn't as productive as they could be, then the information may indicate that the cause is downtime. Therefore, the solution may be for the employee to work on their time management skills.
  • Performance objectives should be very specific and objective, so look carefully at the details. Also, make sure the objectives you set apply directly to that person's current position or job. Is the objective something that the person can manage or change? Confirm that the objective is something that makes sense for the particular role the person plays within the organization.

Make sure the results can be measured and achieved

This isn't just for you. Also people working for objectives must be able to track progress and success. Vague objectives cannot be properly measured, valueless, and open to interpretation, which you should definitely avoid. To prevent it, you have to be sure that there is a way for people to measure their progress.

  • You should be prepared to explain on paper and in a clear and concise way what this measure is and how it works. For example, a freshman botany student whose objective is to understand how plants grow from seed may be expected to grow a tomato plant from seed to fruiting. The tomato plant is the measurable result.
  • Confirm that the desired result for each objective is achievable. One of the main objectives of writing performance objectives for people is to motivate them to be successful. Objectives that include outcomes that the person cannot directly influence or change will have the opposite effect. Try to set objectives that change the person in a reasonable way.
  • Identifying how is the individual performance of the person, not external factors, will be the main determinant to achieve the objective. Objectives should be realistic and take into account the abilities of the person in question and available resources. Identify the specific resources and assistance the person will have to achieve the objective.

Communicate performance objectives to employees

Identify what your expectations are, then explain them to employees. Once you have identified what the desired result is for each objective, you must ensure that the objective produces the desired result. Explain in a clear and direct way what that result is.

For example, if you plan to ask a marketing associate to produce a monthly newsletter for the company, then you'll have the expectation that this newsletter will be released every month, on a particular day, without fail.

Train employees in the proper process

It is important to teach employees how to achieve performance objectives using the appropriate process. Make sure to explain the proper process to them before implementing the changes.

  • Consider what kind of action needs to be taken. What does the person need to do to achieve the objective? Think about what concept you need to understand, what kinds of analysis and tasks you should be able to perform, and what kinds of problems you should be able to solve.
  • For example, a new hire who needs to increase productivity will be asked to learn skills to better manage time. To achieve this objective, the employee must attend a seminar every Friday that addresses this topic and provides helpful advice.

2. Confirm performance measures with superiors and internal customers

Write a report that explains the performance objectives

Write a report that explains the performance objectives and how they will be implemented. Include as much detail as possible. You can share this report with your superiors and with internal clients. The following are some ways to make a report as clear as possible:

  • Use action verbs for each objective. Action verbs are specific to the task and demonstrate exactly what the person must do to achieve the objective. Some good examples of action verbs are increase, establish, create, reduce, design, organize, participate, implement, produce, perform, plan, investigate, etc.
  • Avoid vague behavioral verbs. They can be confusing and generally cannot be measured accurately. Some examples include being aware, familiarizing, studying, knowing, gaining knowledge of, understanding, understanding, knowing, learning, appreciating, covering, realizing, etc.
  • A written example: The director of security operations will send weekly email notes to each department that clearly instruct employees in security techniques.

Explain how the achievement of each objective will be measured

Determine how the person will know that the objective has been completed. For example, the employee who writes notes with safety instructions could be measured by the number of safety-related compensation claims submitted by workers.

  • Pick objectives that have results that can be quantified.
  • An example of a written objective: The production manager will email salespeople weekly to ensure sufficient quantities of production supplies are available at all times. By December 2016, the company expects to experience no supply shortages and will measure this objective by taking a monthly inventory to confirm supply levels.

Clearly express the desired result

Explain what the desired outcome will be when the person has successfully reached the objective of the performance objective. For example, if you want an employee with "excellent written communication skills," think of specific ways those skills will be used.

  • An example of a written objective: By November 2016, the junior sales associate will create a persuasive ad copy that increases the company's sales by 10%.
  • A time frame is established, the job is related to the task, expectations are clearly stated, and an active verb is used to demonstrate what needs to be done.

Expresses how performance objectives relate to larger organizational objectives

The individual objectives of an employee should be directly related to the achievement of the larger objectives of the company. The individual objectives of a student should be related to the educational objectives of the institution. This can provide additional motivation to the person asked to achieve these objectives.

  • An example of a written objective: The security director will send weekly email notes to all department heads with security instructions and advice. By August 2016, the company expects the number of safety-related compensation requests to decrease by 30%. Achieving this objective will create a safe work environment for all employees and will help build an excellent reputation for the company.
  • Connecting individual objectives to group objectives helps ensure that performance objectives are relevant and meaningful.

3. Implement performance measures

Confirm the participation of the appropriate groups

Make sure everyone who needs to be aware of the changes is aware of the changes. This includes senior management, supervisors, employees, etc. Maybe you can keep everyone in the know by sending a note or email explaining the changes.

Confirm that the training has been completed and that the tools are available

Make sure that anyone who is subject to the changes has undergone the appropriate training. You can also confirm that everyone has access to information about the changes (for example, by providing an information packet or online access to materials).

It may also be a good idea to ask someone to confirm that employees have gone through the training or ask employees to sign in when reading about the changes.

Consider incentives for performance

To increase the likelihood that employees will adhere to the changes, you may consider providing benefits to employees who follow the new procedure. You can also consider penalizing employees who don't follow you.

  • Benefits can include a pizza for lunch at the end of the week if productivity has increased or even a cash bonus for the highest performing employee.
  • Penalties can include a verbal warning or assigning an unpleasant or boring task to the lowest performing person.

Pick a realistic start and end date for each objective

Target dates must be logical within the context of the objective. Once you've identified the time frame, set some measurable milestones along the way. These checkpoints can be motivating and help the person keep up.


  • It uses the acronym SMART (which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, or relevant and timely) to remind performance objective writers which components correspond to an effective objective. The format for written performance objectives can vary widely, but each of these components must be addressed.
  • Review written performance objectives periodically to make sure they remain relevant. Changing conditions and priorities may require a change.
  • Get the person expected to meet performance objectives involved in setting the objectives whenever possible. This allows both parties to raise concerns or objections early and often results in a higher level of commitment and effort in positive outcomes.
  • In a company environment, written performance objectives can be used to guide performance evaluations.

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