How to Set Employee Performance Standards

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A job description is a list of job duties and responsibilities that employees perform. Performance standards tell the employees how well they need to perform these duties and responsibilities. Most performance standards are defined in quality and quantity. In some situations, time is considered if the work is production or time-oriented. Companies may set employee performance standards as a way to evaluate how well an employee is performing and to provide training and coaching for performance improvement.

Use the job description to set performance standards (how fast, how much, how accurate, etc.) associated with each critical dimension (e.g., word processing, accounting, assembly line packing). It is important to set reasonable performance standards that can be accomplished while offering a challenge for the employee.

Write the standards in a clear and understandable format. For example, if a word processor is required to type 20 documents per day at an error rate of less than 10 percent, that is the way the standard should be written and evaluated.

Determine the most appropriate terms to use in defining the standards of performance. Some possible terms are "outstanding," "very good," "satisfactory," "marginal" and "unsatisfactory."

Meet with employees on a regular basis to discuss performance standards. Frequent conversations between supervisor and employee build rapport as well as opportunities for coaching and improvement.

Conduct a formal performance evaluation according to company policy. Evaluations are normally administered once a year. If the meetings with employees regarding performance standards have been frequent and in writing, the formal process should be straight-forward with no surprises.


  • Set the same standards for all employees. Ensure that the standards are reasonable and measurable.



About the Author

Based in Dallas, Texas, Marcia Moore has been writing business-related materials since 1974. She has enjoyed a 30-year career in the field of human resources and works as a HR consultant to small and medium businesses. Moore holds a Master of Science in social work from the University of Texas in Arlington.

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