What are the advantages and disadvantages of using objective measures of performance?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using objective measures of performance?

Performance Measures

The modern human resource perspective focuses on job and occupation performance as a developmental process. Organizations seek to create highly skilled, autonomous workers, and as such, they must evaluate worker performance to identify strengths and deficiencies. Performance appraisal always falls into two categories of objective and nonobjective measures. Objective metrics, like time testing, skill testing, and adherence to policies juxtapose subjective standards such as opinion-based manager evaluations. Objective measures eliminate some bias and favoritism but are not a complete performance evaluation system.

The Advantages of Objective Measures of Performance

The primary advantage of using objective measures is their simplicity. These measures are easy tools to use because they often measure skills with a definitive "yes or no" or “pass or fail”. The worker either learned the new skill or not. This simplicity provides management with a time-saving method and low-cost appraisal. Perhaps more important the time and money savings is the easy implementation of the simple-to-decipher objective measures, needing only a basic skill or knowledge test. Despite their benefits, objective measures only tell one side of the story in performance management.

The Disadvantages of Objective Measures of Performance

The worst disadvantage with objective measures of performance is the over-emphasis of measuring goal achievement. Goals often become the standard that judges all activities, which blinds managers and workers to new or more productive methods. Goal standards also reinforce “right” and “wrong” thinking, leading to workers and managers fixating on goals as the measure of job success. This inflexibility stagnates the workforce in a desire to only achieve those goals without improvement (Jex and Britt, 2008). Goal fixation has many negative effects, such as reinforcing bottom-line thinking, which often disregards ethics. For example, when the objective measure of profit determines employee success, this standard overlooks how that profit happens, and that blindness can lead to ignoring and promoting unethical decision-making.

Objective measures also don’t take into account the worker’s satisfaction or value placed on the job. Companies routinely evaluate job performance as satisfactory or perfect using objective measures, but the employee may lack collaborative skill, have a hostile attitude, and in the worst cases, damage workforce morale.

When to Use Objective Measures

Objective measures work best in conjunction with other measures of attitude and traits or when skills and knowledge need testing. Learning new skills and knowledge ready lend themselves to objective testing, whereas creative activities should not have these measures governing them. For example, objectively testing workers for problem-solving skills may create poor results if the worker is limited to answering a multiple-choice test.

Objective measures should be seen as only one side of the coin of performance appraisal and incomplete without a subjective system. Using only objective measures will lead to a highly skilled workforce that cannot work effectively due to unmeasured factors such as collaboration. The high-performance workforce develops through a much more robust process.


Jex, S. M., & Britt, T. W. (2008). Organizational psychology. A scientist-practitioner approach. (2nd ed.). John Wiley and Sons.


Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Article Updated 9/27/2021


Vincent Triola. Mon, Feb 01, 2021. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using objective measures of performance? Retrieved from

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