The final stage in preparing for the planning of performance is to articulate the standards for each of the results or behaviors listed. The Rutgers performance management system has two ratings: Meets Standards and Does Not Meet Standards. Drafting your standards should center on these two ratings.

Meets Standards

When setting performance standards, whether for results or behaviors, it is best to start with midlevel performance, when the performance "meets standards." The university has defined this level as encompassing a range of performance from satisfactorily meeting position expectations to occasionally exceeding position expectations. It is felt that almost all staff perform their jobs efficiently and with professionalism, so it is expected that most will be rated in this category.

What level of result or behavior will meet standards?

It is the level expected of any employee who is fully position knowledgeable and makes a satisfactory effort to perform. To set a behavioral standard for "meets standards," decide what percentage of the time the appropriate behavior should be expected of an employee who is position knowledgeable and makes a satisfactory effort to perform. This percentage should be fairly high. It might be reasonable to expect any sequence 95% of the time from a "meets standards" performer. This is because employees generally have more control over their behavior than they do over results.

Does Not Meet Standards

To set standards for performance which "does not meet standards," think of a performance level that if observed would make the supervisor want to call it to the attention of the direct report, and would make one question the employee's skill or effort. This is a level of performance at which improvement will be required if the employee is to be retained.

Setting Standards

There are several points to consider when developing standards. Results standards have several aspects as indicated below.

  • Quantity: For example "200 new qualified student applications processed per week and the other is time (e.g., "by June 22").
  • Time/speed: For example, “…complete each Friday by 5:00 p.m.” or “Responds to all phone calls in 24 hours.”
  • Cost: For example, “...ensures publication costs do not exceed 2% each fiscal year”
  • Quality” For example, “Completes correspondence on time with no errors.”
  • Judgment of others: For example, “Workshop evaluations have an average composite rating of 3.5 on a 5 point scale.”

As stated previously, developing behavioral standards can be difficult. Behavioral standards are typically set very high, as they tend to be the area of performance that supervisor focus on most frequently.  Behaviors such as excessive tardiness, lack of cooperation with coworkers, and failure to follow designated procedures often lead to employee discipline. To "meet standards" on a behavioral standard might require that appropriate behavior be exhibited 95% of the time. Clarify not only what the behavior is, but also the frequency if that behavior is being performed. Another consideration in settings standards I consistency across the department. If several directors or supervisors in a unit have staff members with similar positions reporting to them, they should discuss standards among themselves and try to reach consensus on what appropriate standards should be. This should not be attempted the first year. It is more important that standards are made explicit first, and then similarity can be sought.

A final note on setting performance standards. Setting standards is a supervisor's duty and responsibility; it is not the function of the employee. Ensure you are evaluating the employee’s performance based upon standards set by you. It is important to do a little "reality checking" before implementing standards. If expectations are excessively high, employees will recognize that they are unattainable and will not even attempt to meet them. If they are too low, one is not likely to get the best from staff members, and unit performance will suffer.