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Performance Management
Define Performance Standards for Each Duty

On this page: Definition, considerations | Common standards

Definition, considerations

While the list of Major Job Duties tells the employee what is to be done, performance standards provide the employee with specific performance expectations for each major duty. They are the observable behaviors and actions which explain how the job is to be done, plus the results that are expected for satisfactory job performance. They tell the employee what a good job looks like. The purpose of performance standards is to communicate expectations. Some supervisors prefer to make them as specific as possible, and some prefer to use them as talking points with the specificity defined in the discussion. Keep in mind that good performance typically involves more than technical expertise. You also expect certain behaviors (e.g. friendliness, helpfulness, courteousness, punctuality, etc.). It is often these behaviors that determine whether performance is acceptable. Performance standards are:

  • Based on the position, not the individual
  • Observable, specific indicators of success
  • Meaningful, reasonable and attainable
  • Describe "fully satisfactory" performance once trained
  • Expressed in terms of Quantity, Quality, Timeliness, Cost, Safety, or Outcomes

In determining performance standards, consider the following:

  • What does a good job look like?
  • How many or how much is needed?
  • How long should it take?
  • When are the results needed?
  • How accurate or how good is acceptable?
  • Are there budget considerations?
  • Are there safety considerations?
  • Are there legislative or regulatory requirements that require strict adherence?
  • Are there behaviors that are expected in your department to promote teamwork, leadership, creativity, customer service?
  • What results would be considered satisfactory?
  • What condition will exist when the duty is well performed?
  • What is the difference between good and poor performance?

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of performance standards

Common standards applicable to everyone in a particular group

There may be a set of common standards and behaviors that are expected from everyone. For example, all supervisors may be expected to perform similarly around several functions, or everyone in the unit will be held to the same standards around teamwork, customer service, etc. In cases like this, you might want to make a list of the common standards that apply and attach to each individual's performance management plan.

click to view examples
of common standards