Definition: Performance standards are the expression of management-approved performance thresholds, expectations, and requirements that are to be met so that the employees are eligible for appraisal.
What are Performance Standards?
Performance standards are approved by management and predefined to their employees at the beginning of the year or quarter. It usually consists of requirements by the management, which are to be fulfilled by the employees.
It may consist of a proper plan or pointers so that employees will have guidance about the organization’s journey. The performance standards vary by rules of the employee, organization, industry, etc. An essential element is established at the beginning of the year or quarter so that the employee can plan accordingly to achieve the goals.
The performance standards are defined so that they are in sync with the employees’ job descriptions. Every aspect of the job description should be matched with performance standards so that the employee is encouraged and can take that extra mile to achieve it.
Usually, performance standards are objective, realistic, measurable, and transparent. Ambiguous performance standards are not at all good for the employee and the organization.
The standards should be written and recorded in any form so that they are accessible by both the manager and the employee. This should consist of both general measures and specific measures, but before you define specific measures, general measures should be defined.
They are a roadmap for the employee to tell how a perfect job looks like. The source objective of performance standards is to communicate the expectations of the organizations to the employee. Typically, performance objectives involve technical expertise; however, behaviors such as helpfulness, teamwork, approachability, etc. are also measured.
Performance management is the same for people in a similar role or department. However, it will vary for people from different departments. For example, the technical expertise of the marketing department will differ from the technical expertise of the HR department.
Considerations of performance standards
Performance standards should define what a good job will look like. It should be clear in establishing a typical workday for the employee and the amount of work that is required to undertake by the employee.
It should also define how long the work will require and what the results are expected. When it comes to results, the organization should be as specific as possible.
Clear performance standards will help the employees to plan their work accordingly. Any fine line or terms and conditions should be clarified beforehand to avoid future conflict.
While it is understood that the organization expects perfect work from the employee, a human factor should also be considered, which says that there could be some deviation from perfection.
The organization should establish the deviation standards or a general bracket of expected results when defining performance standards. Safety and budget considerations, if any, should be mentioned explicitly.
The strictness and adherence to rules should also be mentioned. The employee should be aware of who all are involved in his performance evaluation so that all of them are in a loop when it comes to giving feedback about his performance. Expected behaviors, teamwork, leadership, and creativity are common traits expected from almost every employee in every department. However, it depends widely on the nature of the organization.
The terms good, satisfactory, excellent, and best should be adequately defined, and similar results should be defined accurately. For example, HR’s performance standard would be to achieve the lowest employee turnover rate for the year.
In this case, a good result would be reaching a turnover rate of less than 10%, while a satisfactory result would be achieving a turnover rate of less than 20%. On the other hand, a perfect achievement would be achieving a turnover rate close to 0%.
Therefore the organization should be as specific as possible when it comes to defining and establishing different levels of performance standards.
Every action should be backed with a reaction. Therefore the organization should establish the measurement standards for every action which is taken or achieved by the employee.
For example, suppose the employee can achieve a satisfactory level of performance. The employee will get ten while a good performance with attract 20 points, and excellent performance will earn 30 points.
There could be other nitty-gritty and fine things specific to the job roles of the employee. Care should be taken that no area is left unanswered when it comes to setting performance standards.
Common performance standards
The following are a few of the common performance standards
- Responsibility from the employee and ownership for his tasks
- The employer can work under limited or significantly less supervision
- Employee priorities are established, and a sense of urgency is demonstrated while completing the tasks
- There is a clear understanding of the tasks which are given to the employee
2. Ethical behavior
An employee demonstrates honesty and integrity towards all the tasks equally without disrupting the organization’s vision and mission. A sense of responsibility and ownership and accountability is expected from the employee while ensuring that no task is completed unethically.
Teamwork is a very common performance standard that is established in most organizations. With organizations becoming multinational and multicultural, it is common to see people from different countries, races, genders, and preferences at work.
Following are a few of the teamwork performance standards:
- The employee towards his co-workers shows a commitment by sharing relevant information.
- The employee can assist or ask for assistance from his co-workers across all departments within appropriate limits.
- Relevant information is shared by the employee to his supervisor and team members.
- Every employee in the team will take ownership and responsibility of the team assignments equally.
- Opinions and feedbacks are actively sought by the employee between his team and supervisors
- Employers should be willing to help others to get the job done. However, that help should be within defined limits.
- The employee positively tries to motivate the team and enhances the performance of the team.
- The employee should be able to convey appropriate information actively with the help of proper tools.
- The communication should be as transparent as possible without any ambiguous messages.
- The employee should be able to communicate across all departments if needed, and the chain of communication should be followed.
- The employee can use accurate, clear, and concise language to provide effective communication.
5. Time management
The employee can complete all his work on a predefined schedule and can meet the required deadlines.
The employee should display consistent time management qualities in the various projects assigned to him.
The employee should be punctual when it comes to attending meetings or any other official work in the office.
If the employee is unable to attend specific work, he should be able to communicate it to his managers or supervisors well in time, along with a proper reason for the delay.
The employee should be able to solve problems related to his work or his job profile. He should be able to present alternatives by identifying the problem with creative solutions.
Employees should demonstrate flexibility by being open to alternate ideas as well.
Performance standards should be defined early in the job and should be made clear by the employer to the employee. They should be limited to their job responsibilities and should be clear and concise, along with the result that the employee will achieve after the expected outcome.