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  • 1. Title: Performance Management Scheme: Guidelines for Writing Performance Standards Version 1.0 TRIM file number 06/XXX Short description Guidelines on how to write performance standards for the Performance Management Scheme. Relevant to All employees Approved by Executive Director, Human Resources Responsible officer Executive Director, Human Resources Responsible office Division of Human Resources Date introduced 15 September, 2006 Date(s) modified Next scheduled review date July, 2007 Related University documents Applicable industrial instrument (i.e. CSU Enterprise Agreement, Australian Workplace Agreement or Refer to the Administration contract of employment) Manual for these documents. Performance Management Scheme: Policy for Executive, Academic and General Staff Procedure for Performance Based Remuneration and Performance Management for Executive and Senior Managers Performance Management Scheme: Procedure for Academic Staff Performance Management Scheme: Procedure for General Staff Performance Management Scheme: Guidelines for Performance Management Supervisors Performance Management Scheme: Guidelines for Writing Performance Objectives Performance Management Scheme: Performance Report Form for Academic Staff Performance Management Scheme: Progress Report Form for Academic Staff Performance Management Scheme: Performance Report Form for General Staff Performance Management Scheme: Progress Report Form for General Staff Policy on Standards, Expectations and Qualifications of Academic Staff Guidelines on Standards, Expectations and Qualifications of Academic Staff Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 1 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 2. Related University documents Generic Responsibilities of CSU Staff (continued) CSU’s Guidelines on the Management of Unsatisfactory Performance CSU Induction and Development Program Guidelines Related legislation Key words guidelines, performance objective, stretch objective, Performance Management Scheme, performance plan Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 2 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 3. 1. PURPOSE The purpose of these guidelines is to describe how to set performance standards as part of: (a) planning performance for the next performance management cycle; and (b) developing a performance improvement plan. 2. SCOPE These guidelines apply to all academic and general staff members and performance management supervisors who are eligible to participate in the Performance Management Scheme. 3. WHAT IS A PERFORMANCE STANDARD? 3.1 A performance standard is a specification of the behaviours or results that are expected or required in a particular performance rating category as follows: (a) If an employee meets or exceeds performance requirements, performance standards describe the behaviours or results expected for the categories of “meets performance requirements” and/or “outstanding performance”. (b) For elements of performance that are below requirements, performance standards describe the behaviours or results expected for the category of “meets performance requirements”. 3.2 Performance standards at CSU are developed to describe expected performance in relation to a performance objective or stretch objective. 3.3 Performance standards should be consistent for staff at the same classification level. 4. WHY HAVE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS? 4.1 The purpose of performance standards is to clarify what is expected of the employee to meet performance requirements and how he/she can exceed those requirements. 4.2 Performance standards provide objective criteria against which performance may be compared. This enables the supervisor to provide specific feedback describing the gap between expected and actual performance. They therefore reduce subjective performance rating to a minimum. 4.3 Effective performance standards: (a) serve as an objective basis for communicating about performance; Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 3 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 4. (b) enable the employee to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable results; and (c) increase job satisfaction because employees know when tasks are performed well. 5. WHO DEVELOPS THE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS? 5.1 Performance planning 5.1.1 In the planning stage of the performance management meeting, the supervisor and employee discuss the behaviours and results that would constitute the minimum acceptable performance for “meets requirements”. They also discuss the behaviour and results expected for “outstanding performance”. 5.1.2 The performance standards help the supervisor determine if a performance objective or stretch objective has been achieved at the end of the performance management cycle. They therefore play a role in the performance rating process. 5.2 Performance improvement plan 5.2.1 If an employee’s performance is rated as “below requirements” at the formal performance review, then the performance management supervisor and employee collaboratively develop performance standards for the elements of performance that need improvement. 5.2.2 The supervisor explains what performance standards are, why they are important, and how they will be used. He/she also makes it clear that the employee’s recommendations and concerns will be considered seriously. They then work together to develop the standards for the identified elements of performance. 5.2.3 It is the supervisor’s responsibility to strive for mutual agreement about the performance standards. However, if agreement is unable to be reached, the supervisor is authorised to make the final decision about their appropriateness. 5.2.4 The benefits of developing performance standards collaboratively are that they are more likely to: (a) be appropriate to the requirements of the job; (b) reflect the realities of the work context and conditions; (c) be understood by the employee and supervisor; and (d) be accepted by the employee and supervisor. 6. WHAT SHOULD THE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS BE BASED ON? Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 4 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 5. 6.1 Performance standards are based on the employee’s performance objectives and stretch objectives. These objectives, in turn, are based on: (a) the general staff member’s current duty statement; (b) the position descriptors for the general staff member’s current classification level; (c) the academic staff member’s annual workload allocation, which specifies the relevant academic activity areas for the performance management cycle: • teaching or the scholarship of teaching (unless employed in a research-only position); • research or professional activity or creative works; • academic administration (Level A only); • academic management and/or leadership in the scholarship of teaching and/or research or professional activity or creative works (Levels B-E only); (d) the “Standards, Expectations and Qualifications” relevant to the academic staff member’s current classification level, as contained in the policy and/or guidelines; and/or (e) the “Generic Responsibilities of CSU Staff”. 6.2 The supervisor should ensure that the performance standards align with the following plans: (a) the University Strategy and associated five year plans (learning and teaching, courses, research, and institutional development); and/or (b) the annual operational plan for the School/Section or Faculty/Division. 7. HOW TO DEVELOP PERFORMANCE STANDARDS 7.1 An effective performance standard is one that outlines: (a) a specific result to be achieved; (b) objective criteria for measuring the result or progress towards the result; and (c) a clear timeframe for achieving the result. 7.2 Determine general criteria that would be important for measuring acceptable behaviours and results in relation to a performance objective, stretch objective, or a performance element that has been deemed to fall below requirements. For example: Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 5 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 6. (a) Quantity: this specifies how much work must be completed within a certain period of time. (b) Quality: this describes how well the work must be accomplished. It specifies accuracy, precision, appearance or effectiveness. (c) Timeliness: this answers the questions, By when? How soon? or Within what period? Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 6 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 7. (d) Effective use of resources: this is used when performance can be assessed in terms of utilisation of resources: money saved, waste reduced, etc. (e) Effects of effort: this addresses the ultimate effect to be obtained; it expands statements of effectiveness by using phrases such as: “so that”, “in order to”, or “as shown by”. (f) Manner of performance: this describes conditions in which an individual’s personal behaviour has an effect on performance. (g) Method of performing assignments: this describes requirements to be followed when only the officially-prescribed policy, procedure, or rule for accomplishing the work is acceptable. 7.3 Determine specific criteria for measuring the performance results or progress in relation to each performance objective, stretch objective, or performance element that has been deemed to fall below requirements. 7.3.1 To develop specific measures, determine how to measure the quantity, quality, timeliness, cost-effectiveness, etc of the objective or performance element. For example: (a) Is there some number or percentage that could be tracked? (b) If not, what factors should be looked for? 7.3.2 Examples of specific criteria are: (a) Quantity: “enters 30 enrolments per day” or “marks 10 assignments per day”. (b) Quality: “95% of documents submitted are accepted without revision” or “achieves 4.5 or above on all compulsory items of student evaluations”. (c) Timeliness: “all work orders are completed within five working days of receipt” or “specified assignment turnaround times are achieved”. (d) Effective use of resources: “the computer handbook project will be completed with only internal resources” or “the printed distance education material for the subject will not be more than 300 pages”. (e) Effects of effort: “establishes inventory levels for the storeroom so that supplies are maintained 100% of the time” or “utilises research support so that at least one article is submitted by the end of the year”. (f) Manner of performance: “assists other employees in the work unit in accomplishing assignments” or “demonstrates Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 7 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 8. collegiality and consideration in dealings with other academic staff”. (g) Method of performing assignments: “The Approval Request Form: New/Amended Policy or Procedure is completed in accordance with the established University procedure” or “follows the School policy regarding absences and travel”. 7.4 Determine how to gather information about work performance. For example: (a) direct observation; (b) specific work results (tangible evidence that can be reviewed without the employee being present); (c) reports and records; (d) formal student evaluations; and/or (e) commendations or constructive or critical comments received about the employee's work. 7.5 Draft the performance standards 7.5.1 The performance standards must be written in clear, easily understood language with mutually agreed upon terms, describing the specific behaviours and results for meeting or exceeding performance requirements. 7.5.2 All performance standards should be reasonable and appropriate, no matter who is performing the duties and related tasks. Performance standards should also be consistent with the University’s objectives and strategic priorities. 7.5.3 Standards for meeting performance requirements should not be the pinnacle of performance; rather, they should allow for a reasonable margin of errors, misjudgements, etc. This serves two purposes: (a) the employee does not have to be "perfect" to get a rating of 3 (“meets performance requirements”); and (b) the performance management supervisor has room to give an employee a rating of 4 (“exceeds performance requirements”) or 5 (“outstanding performance”). 7.5.4 On the other hand, standards should not be written as "What is the minimum performance I can get by with?" This kind of standard would allow the "marginal" employee to get a rating of 3 when, in reality, his/her work needs improvement. Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 8 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 9. 7.5.5 Describe performance requirements in terms of timeliness, cost effectiveness, quality, quantity, customer satisfaction, independent initiative, and any other relevant, verifiable measure. 7.5.6 Specify the acceptable margin for error. It is very rare for perfection to be an appropriate standard, even for outstanding performance. 7.5.7 Include any specific conditions under which the performance is expected to be accomplished or performance assessed. For example: • "with training from Frank..." • "using job aids provided by Leila..." • "assuming all required information is received on time from department X..." • "assuming [this task] is performed 50% of the work day..." 7.6 Check the performance standards After the performance standards have been written, the supervisor and employee should collaboratively check them against the following questions: (a) Are the standards realistic? Standards should be attainable and consistent with what is necessary to perform the work required. Standards for meeting performance requirements represent the minimum acceptable level of performance for all employees in that position. (b) Are the standards specific? Standards should tell an employee exactly which specific actions and results he or she is expected to accomplish. (c) Are the standards based on measurable data, observation or verifiable information? Performance can be measured in terms of criteria such as timeliness, cost effectiveness, quality, quantity, etc. (d) Are the standards consistent with the University’s objectives and strategic priorities? Performance standards link individual (and team) performance to organisational objectives and should therefore be consistent with those objectives. (e) Are the standards clear and understandable? Employees whose performance is to be evaluated against them should understand the standards completely. (f) Are the standards dynamic and flexible? As the University’s objectives, technologies or operations change, performance standards should also evolve. 7.7 Record the performance standards (if applicable) Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 9 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 10. 7.7.1 Record the agreed performance standards in the performance improvement plan for elements of performance that have been deemed to fall below requirements. NOTE: If agreement is unable to be reached, then the supervisor has the authority to make the final decision. 7.7.2 Performance standards that have been discussed as part of annual/biennial performance planning do not need to be recorded. 8. EXAMPLES OF PERFORMANCE STANDARDS Performance standards are negotiated between the performance management supervisor and employee at the performance management meeting. The examples below are provided as a guide for how to develop standards. They are for illustration only. 8.1 General Staff Greets customers • Opens office promptly at 9:00 a.m.; • Consistently conveys a friendly, helpful, professional manner; • Provides accurate information; • Demonstrates a customer service orientation; and • Secures back-up for times of absences from desk. Assists students with academic enquiries • Works with students in a customer-oriented manner; • Gives accurate information; • Keeps updated on requirement changes and keeps students informed; and • Knows and utilises resources to resolve problems. Composes correspondence • Composition is professional, grammatically correct, clear and logical; • Correspondence is written in accordance with the approved university style; • Correspondence is timely; and • Correspondence has a customer friendly orientation. Makes travel arrangements and completes travel documents • All arrangements are made in a timely manner; • Ensures that all travel stays within the travel budget, with exceptions cleared by the Dean/Executive Director (or equivalent); • Monitors to ensure accuracy in travel orders. Provides technical support to computer users Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 10 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 11. • Identifies and resolves problems such that the user feels that the problem is resolved; • Installs hardware and software in a timely manner and with minimum interruption to the user; and • Conducts all interactions with the user in a customer-friendly manner. Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 11 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 12. Manage projects • Develops accurate and realistic project plans that are accepted by the user; • Completes tasks within agreed timeframe and budget; • Anticipates problems and recommends a range of realistic and cost- efficient solutions; • Updates project status to all involved in the project on a weekly basis; • Maintains a global perspective when analysing problems (e.g. re-use in other applications); and • Maintains complete and accurate records and complies with all university regulations. Analytical results and specifications • The method measures the appropriate variable; • The results are relevant; • The method is scientifically sound; • There is a well-written protocol; and • The method is accurate, precise, reproducible, fast and cost-effective. Develops policies and/or interprets and implements all federal, state, local and university policies, procedure and regulations • Sufficient research is conducted to provide accurate background knowledge necessary to the process of development and/or interpretation; • Policies are clear, written in accordance with the approved University style, and include all necessary components; • All pre-approval steps have been followed to include necessary input from key stakeholders; and • Clear, unambiguous communication of policies is carried out in a timely manner to key stakeholders. 8.2 Academic staff Teaching • 90% of student evaluation outcomes are rated at 4.5 or higher for core items. • The employee meets performance-based funding (PBF) criteria for professional development in teaching. • The employee actively contributes to the attainment of one or more targets stipulated in the University’s Learning and Teaching Plan. • Assessment is conducted in accordance with CSU policy and procedure. • There are no justified student complaints. Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 12 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 13. Course coordination • The course review or a new course meets the approved CSU style. • The course review or a new course is accepted by the Courses Committee and Academic Programs Committee (APC). • The course review meets CSU timelines. • The Course Coordinator is available to students enrolled in the course and gives valid and timely advice. Academic administration • The employee contributes in a collegial way to School activities. • The employee maintains active membership of at least one School committee or working party. Research • The employee’s research plan and proposed research activities meet the satisfaction of the Head of School. • The employee actively contributes to the attainment of one or more targets stipulated in the University’s Research Plan. • The employee contributes towards the University’s quantum of research income, research publications and/or the University’s response to the Research Quality Framework (RQF). Research Training • The employee is actively engaged in supervision of students at an honours or research higher degree level. • Research students satisfactorily complete their degree course. • The employee is currently enrolled in a research higher degree or professional doctorate. SOURCES County of Los Angeles Public Library 2002, New performance evaluation management policy, updated January, http://home.earthlink.net/~denmartin/pe-21.html Indiana University 2005, Define performance standards for each duty, University Human Resource Services, updated 24 February, http://www.indiana.edu/~uhrs/training/performance_management/define.htm Nickols, F. 2000, Performance and performance standards: An opinion, http://home.att.net/~nickols/opinion.htm Rutgers University 2005, Performance appraisal guide, University Human Resources, http://uhr.rutgers.edu/documents/p4pperfapprguide.pdf University of California Davis, Performance management, Employee and Labour Relations, Division of Human Resources, http://www.hr.ucdavis.edu/Elr/Er/PerfMgmt University of North Texas, Developing realistic performance standards, Staff development manual, Human Resources Department, http://www.unt.edu/hr/compensation/CHAPTER4.doc Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 13 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006
  • 14. U.S. Office of Personnel Management 1998, Performance management: Developing performance standards, Workforce Performance Resources Newsletter, April, http://www.opm.gov/perform/articles/118.asp Table of amendments Version Date Short description of amendment number Guidelines on writing performance standards Page 14 Version 1.0 – 15 September, 2006