What’s the difference between tasks and performance objectives?

performance objectivesI had another great question sent to me recently – this time about how to write performance objectives for a cook! Now, I know absolutely nothing about managing a cook (I know very little about cooking either) but I do like a challenge and there is a very interesting point about the difference between performance objectives and tasks that you might find useful. So here is the question, and my answer:

Hi, Ms. Joan, I thank you very much for your articles. I have already gone them and found it very useful to both employer and employees.

The problem we face is how to differentiate between the Performance objectives and the actual tasks the employees do. For example a cook of an institute who cooks for the whole year food for students; how would she formulate her performance objectives? I thank you again, James

Hi James

Thanks for the feedback! Great question – let me try and help. In my view;

• Tasks are short descriptions of what the employee does

• Performance objectives describe the standard of performance you need the employee to achieve for those tasks

Let me try and give some examples (but please bear in mind that I don’t know much about what a cook of an institute actually does!!)

TASK: Prepare food for students

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES: Prepare food for students

• Prepare food for 190 students by 12pm Monday – Friday term times

• Ensure a minimum of three choices of main course are available each day

• Ensure one main course vegetarian option available each day

• Ensure a minimum of three fruit or vegetable choices are available

• Monitor student food choice selection to identify unpopular meals and take these meals off the menu

TASK: Ensure Food Hygiene Regulations applied


• Ensure food hygiene regulations are met as set down in… (James – you would here refer to food hygiene regulations or describe food hygiene ‘rules’ e.g. meat must always be covered and refrigerated separately)

So, those are performance objectives related to the ‘day to day’ achievement of tasks. Now, if you read my blog ‘performance objectives – where do I find the time?’ you will see that, unless your cook is new or an underperformer, I don’t recommend you set performance objectives for the tasks that the cook is currently undertaking to the performance level that you need them to (although, of course, you can if you want to!).So

• What are the tasks you want the cook to improve on?

• What would that improvement look like? Just as a simple example, let’s assume you are not happy with the way the cook is running the kitchen in terms of Health and Safety (he keeps walking away from a cooker with a naked flame – dangerous!) So you would agree a performance objective like this:

TASK: Ensure Health and Safety (H&S) Regulations applied


• Ensure H&S regulations are met as set down in … (refer to H&S regulations or describe H&S ‘rules’ e.g. naked flames on cookers not to be left unattended)

I hope you find this helpful!

Best wishes Joan


A good question wasn’t it? I hope you’ve also found the answer useful!

Do you want to read more about Performance Objectives?

performance objectivesWhy not take a look at my e-book ‘Motivating Your Staff with Powerful Performance Objectives’ – a step-by-step guide for managers, team leaders and supervisors who want to motivate their staff to high performance. More details HERE

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