How to write employee performance objectives

Employee performance objectives must be clearly written to describe what an employee is expected to do to meet specific job requirements. To ensure that the objectives are understood, write them to identify the results for each job duty. Make certain the objectives are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive.

Write a job objective that is specific. For example, setting an objective that the employee should type as fast as possible and make few mistakes is not very specific. A specific objective would state that the employee should type 80 words per minute with an error rate of less than 10 per cent.

Ensure that the job objective is measurable. One that states the employee should provide excellent customer service is not measurable. A measurable objective would state that the employee should not keep a customer waiting over three minutes for service.

Define and write objectives that are achievable. If you set an objective that is beyond the scope of the employee's ability or knowledge, the employee will fail. A word processor typist cannot be expected to type 100 long documents in one day as it is not achievable.

Conduct a reality check when you write an objective. Is the employee able to meet these objectives given the resources available?

Determine a realistic period of time for the objective. Setting a time-bound objective that is far off in the future can result in failure. Consider the previous performance and sense of urgency in the employee's work.


Discuss the objectives with the employee and agree that they are reasonable. Maintain fairness to all employees when setting objectives.


Don't set unrealistic objectives to ultimately terminate an employee. Don't use objectives as a discipline or punishment.

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Things Needed

  • Copy of job description
  • Written standards associated with job description

About the Author

Based in Dallas, Texas, Marcia Moore has been writing business-related materials since 1974. She has enjoyed a 30-year career in the field of human resources and works as a HR consultant to small and medium businesses. Moore holds a Master of Science in social work from the University of Texas in Arlington.

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