Clear Performance Standards – 10 Things They Tell Your Staff About You


Millions of words have been written about the importance of performance standards. You may have read some words on this blog. But the very fact that they exist says something important about you to your employees. And what it says is worth a thousand pep talks.

1. Performance Matters

When your staff have clear performance standards to meet you are telling them “performance matters”.  Without those standards, you invite your staff to decide what matters for themselves. It’s a recipe for conflict.

2. Your Expectations

Theys say what you expect, clearly and unequivocally. Staff can only give exactly what you want when they know exactly what you want. If you’re in no doubt and they’re in no doubt there’s, well … no doubt.

3. Evaluating Work

Most employees want to know “how they’re going”. Sound measures of performance make the answers to that question part of daily work. Clear standards lead to sound systems.

4. Clarifies The Place Of Support Systems

Your support systems can only provide true support when they clearly support stated performance standards. Without them, systems become sloppy and imprecise.  Systems and standards are inter-related.

5. Where You Stand

Performance standards tell your people that you know where you stand. They know that you know what you want. They may not necessarily like or agree with what you want, but they will know.  That reinforces positive expectation.

6. Self Assessment

You can’t “ride herd” on the work of all employees all the time. Performance standards can and do. They enable employees to assess their own performance constantly.

7. One Rule For All

They also say that you measure the work of all employees by how well they meet their standards. They create perceived fairness in assessment. And they reduce the chance of complaints about “favouritism”.

8. Puts Behaviour In Perspective

“Behaviour is what you take with you. Performance is what you leave behind.” I can’t remember who said that. But performance standards tell employees that to you, good behaviour is no substitute for poor performance. Pleasing the boss means sound performance not seeking approval. That’s good for everyone.

9. Makes Sense of Reward Systems

You simply can’t have truly effective reward systems without sound standards. Employees know that. So should you. Enough said!

10. Enhances The Value Of Information

Good performance standards can’t be misinterpreted. As vital corporate criteria it becomes essential that other written information match them for clarity and precision.


Clear, positive performance standards have so many benefits that it seems absurd that every single manager in the world doesn’t use and value them. If you had doubts before, I hope I’ve done my bit to dispel them. Be committed to establishing such standards for your employees. Your employees can’t give you outstanding results without them. Make it a key New Year’s resolution.

Make it a key New Year’s resolution.

2 Responses to Clear Performance Standards – 10 Things They Tell Your Staff About You
  1. Marcus Sheridan, The Sales LIon
    December 16, 2010 | 5:01 pm

    Love #8 Leon. Whoever the heck said it was a smart dude.

    Great list buddy.

  2. Leon
    December 17, 2010 | 10:34 am

    G’Day Marcus,
    Glad you liked it. The first person that I heard use the expression was Dr Thomas Gilbert. Tom was one of the “Fathers” of performance technology/engineering. He wrote a very famous book called “Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance” in the 90s. I believe it’s been republished recently.

    I was going to tell you all about it and it’s relevance to today’s managers. But I’ve decided to write a blog post about it instead. For the moment, consider the median strip, as we call them here, and the fact that it virtually eliminates the possibility of head-on crashes, That’s performance engineering in action.

    Thanks for the inspiration.



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