There are several keys to an effective hiring strategy.
If you want to make the right hires, more often than not, you need to vet applicants and ensure they’re the right fit for the role.
Simply laying out the roles and responsibilities of the job isn’t enough; to attract top talent who will excel in the position, you need to define performance standards.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of performance standards and employee performance optimization so that you can fill your company ranks with high-performing employees.
What is a Performance Standard?
Before we delve into the tools, tips, and strategies behind effective performance standards and how to improve employee performance, let’s start with a basic definition:
A performance standard is a written guide outlining performance expectations and guidelines for a company or role
The performance standard is a way of briefing candidates on what will be expected of them should they go through the onboarding process for a role they applied for.
It serves two main purposes for applicants:
- Filter out those who feel unequipped for the expectations of the role
- Inform new hires what they can do to excel in the role
Performance standards can also be useful internally, too.
They can provide leadership with a clear roadmap for employee productivity tracking and rewarding progress and performance. Plus, they make it easier to maintain a high employee retention rate by ensuring that each hire you make is a suitable fit for the role..
How to Set Effective Performance Standards
Performance standards communicate your expectations to new recruits, so it’s important to get them right.
If anything appears vague or open to interpretation, you could set yourself up for employee discontent and confusion later down the line due to mismatched expectations of performance.
So how do you set effective performance standards?
The best performance standards are those which lay out in no uncertain terms how an employee can meet expectations working for a company.
That means you need to get granular when drawing up your standards, so there are no gray areas or space for interpretation.
What does that look like in practice?
- Clearly state the numbers associated with good performance e.g. 3 blog posts per day
- Name the people responsible for assessing performance on particular tasks e.g. the line supervisor
- Provide factors that positively or negatively influence performance within the role e.g. number of grammatical errors in a blog post
When you say something vague like ‘the candidate is expected to complete each blog post to a high standard’ in your performance standard, you miss the opportunity to be absolutely clear in your expectations.
In this case, what constitutes a ‘high standard’?
Everyone who reads this statement could have a different idea of what this means, so ditch the vagueness in favor of specificity.
Create Expectations for Productivity and Efficiency
Productivity isn’t everything in business, but it’s widely considered to be an effective performance metric for both teams and individuals. Likewise, efficiency doesn’t tell you everything about performance, but it gives you valuable information.
By productivity, we’re referring to output, as in how much an employee can produce in a given timeframe. Whereas with efficiency, we’re referring to how an employee can get a similar amount of work done in less time.
With a performance standard, you can lay down your base expectations for productivity and efficiency so employees won’t have to question whether they’re performing at a satisfactory level in their role.
For example, outline the number of deliverables you expect on a daily or weekly basis while giving an estimate of how long that should take.
If you only say that the employee is expected to produce five blog posts a week, they might spend every working minute on them - yet this isn’t the most efficient use of their time. There may be other commitments, such as meetings etc, so it’s important to outline both productivity and efficiency standards.
You can use a performance review template to see whether employees are on track to hit your expectations or fall short.
Clarify Effective Time Management
Time is a precious resource in the workplace, and also a valuable metric for productivity.
That’s why in your performance standard, it’s a good idea to outline what you expect of an employee regarding their time management skills.
What do we mean by time management?
- How should employees prioritize their tasks?
- What is the process for scheduling like, and how should they populate their work calendar?
- What are typical project completion timeframes?
Time management is crucial for effective project management, so it’s important to instill it as a vital skill in your initial performance standard guidelines. That way, every new hire knows that it’s a skill they need to work on to be successful in the role.
How to Monitor Performance Against Standards
So you’ve set your performance standards, and now you’re wondering how to measure employee performance in real time.
As we mentioned earlier, time and productivity are both incredibly useful metrics for determining overall output and performance. When you have a clear idea of how much time employees are spending on different tasks, websites, and apps, you can build a picture of their day-to-day performance.
What’s the best way to track time and productivity?
A worker tracking system offers a simple way to build out detailed time and productivity reports for each team member. With tracker software like Insightful, you can be monitoring employees' internet usage to keep an eye on time data in real time. You can rely on automatic time tracking to produce accurate data.
If you were clear from the outset in your expectations on efficiency, you can use employee software tracking data to see if the employees’ time usage matches your standards. Likewise, for productivity, you can see how much time an employee is pouring into particular projects and how much they managed to produce in a specific timeframe. Time tracking for remote employees is especially useful when managing your team remotely.
With software that tracks computer activity measuring performance against your standards is straightforward and reliable.