How to Set Employee Performance Standards

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In order for your business to thrive, your employee performance needs to excel. It’s not enough for your staff to simply complete their duties, they have to complete them to the best of their abilities while meeting your standards. In order to clarify for your team what kind of performance you’re looking for, it’s imperative to set clear employee performance standards.

Use the Job Description

Start the process of setting employee performance standards by using the job description for each role as a baseline. Try to assign a measurable standard for each task listed under the job description. For example, if one of the duties of your employees is to assist customers with their purchases, a performance standard can be to achieve 25 positive customer comments annually.

Examples of measurable performance standards include:

  • Sales targets
  • Marketing campaign clicks
  • Sales conversions
  • Customer service sentiment
  • Employee satisfaction scores
  • Shipping speed
  • Product quality

While the job description is a good starting point for setting performance standards, it doesn’t provide a real-world or tactical view of the role. You’ll need to consider other factors in order to round out your performance standards, such as your employees’ perspectives.

Get Employees Involved in Setting Performance Standards

No one is as familiar with the role as the employee who is entrenched in it. Take time to ask them about how they think their role can be measured. They may have some unique angles to consider that you may not have thought of. It’s also important to involve the employee in the performance standard process so that they feel engaged in their work. This empowers employees by showing them they have a direct hand in how successful they are at the company.

Setting performance standards with employees can be done during your annual review. Ask them to come up with three ways to measure their performance during the course of the next year. You can then review their suggestions and revise them to meet your standards if necessary.

Communicate Performance Standards in the Workplace Clearly

Your employee performance standards will only be effective in improving the quality of work at your business if they are shared and implemented correctly. It’s not enough just to set the standards; you also have to teach your employees about their importance and how they work.

Hold a workshop to discuss your new policy for employee performance standards. Walk your employees through how they will be measured on their performance. Discuss tactical steps for keeping track of performance, so employees feel comfortable with the process.

At each annual review, revise the set of performance standards for each new year. During monthly check-ins, be sure to calculate the performance standard metrics so that you can be sure your employees are on track. If an employee is falling behind, work with them to improve their performance. If an employee is well ahead of the goal, raise the bar higher so they have more of an incentive to continue doing their best.

Set Your Team Up to Succeed

When you set performance standards for your employees, it’s vital to provide them with the support they need to achieve those metrics. Offer on-the-job training for employees who are having trouble maintaining their performance. It’s possible that they don’t understand a particular process or task they need to complete and can improve with internal training.

Helping your employees succeed helps your business to succeed as well. Hold regular lunch-and-learn workshops at your business, tackling a new performance topic each month. For example, you can discuss leadership skills, initiative and motivation, problem-solving and critical thinking. Your employees may provide you with new ideas for your business, and you may be able to help employees improve their performance.

Be sure to lead by example. Always do your best work, and help your team do the same. This will show them the importance of performance standards, and how critical they are to maintaining the success of your business.

References

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About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.

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