What Are Job Performance Goals?

Dan Cavallari

Job performance goals are specified tasks, practices, or habits an employee will develop to become better at his or her job. Some jobs require an employee to develop job performance goals as part of a professional development plan, while in other instances, an employee may come up with such goals as a personal challenge. Employees who are goal-oriented tend to have an easier time getting promotions or raises, and in some cases, promotions and raises may be based completely on achievement of these set goals. Very often an employer has a hand in helping the employee develop the goals.

Unrealistic performance goals can contribute to workplace anxiety.
Unrealistic performance goals can contribute to workplace anxiety.

General job performance goals may be a list of essential job duties. A secretary, for example, may have general job performance goals that include completing filing before noon, returning all relevant e-mails within a certain time frame, and updating employers about appointments in a timely manner. These general goals are basic outlines of what the employee must accomplish over the course of the day; establishing them as job performance goals ensures the employee keeps these essential job functions in mind and performs them well every day.

Performance improvement goals are designed to address an employee's shortcomings or failures to accomplish basic tasks.
Performance improvement goals are designed to address an employee's shortcomings or failures to accomplish basic tasks.

Professional development job performance goals include specific classes, seminars, conferences, and other self-improvement opportunities that will help the employee become more valuable to the company and more skilled as a worker. Stated professional development goals may take some time to complete; a teacher may, for example, choose to take English as a Second Language, or ESL, courses to fulfill a teaching certification requirement. An emergency medical technician may need to get re-certified in first aid safety or CPR techniques, which can be outlined as a professional development goal. Sometimes an employer will set out specific professional development goals for the employee that he or she must complete in order to retain the job, while in other cases, the employee may have a more active hand in developing such goals.

Performance improvement goals are designed to address an employee's shortcomings or failures to accomplish basic tasks. If, for example, an employee continually gets into verbal conflicts with other employees, a performance improvement goal may be to find other ways to deal with conflicts. An employee who consistently leaves work before the workday is over may have a performance improvement goal of staying until 5 p.m. sharp. In many cases, such goals will be monitored closely by the employer, and the employee may be terminated if he or she cannot meet these outlined goals over a set period of time.

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Discussion Comments

Not all of us have the type of job where we can set our own performance goals. And even if we do, we're not necessarily appreciated for it. It depends on the workplace and type of job.

I completely agree that goal oriented employees who thrive on achievement are more likely to set job performance goals for themselves. These employees are keen on proving themselves and they try perform even better than what is expected of them. Two of the managers at my workplace had started out at lower positions. But they set their own work performance goals and soon moved up into supervisory and then manager positions. Some people are inclined to be achievers. I admire them and hope to be like them.


Job performance goals don't only help the employee improve at his job, although this is a major part of it. These goals are also used by employers to evaluate employees' performance. They're also called performance review goals.

There are actually many different job performance models out there that management can use to evaluate their employees. Setting job performance goals and evaluating the results is a very commonly used model. I think it works fairly well too, as long as the goals are realistic with realistic deadlines.

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