What are performance expectations?

Performance expectations are the standards for the position and the objectives for the individual employee, which need to be clearly communicated to employees. Expectations often have two aspects:

  1. The quantity or timeliness of work products, and
  2. The quality or accuracy of those products. A Standard is what you measure an employee against; i.e., “observes handbook for processing of all requests” or “writes and communicates messages and requests for services clearly.” An Objective is a specific goal; i.e., “prepares 60 documents per hour” or “install five software packages by December 1, 2010”.

see Sample Performance Objectives for examples of objectives for the individual employee.

Sample Performance Objectives

Employee & Labor Relations Analyst

  1. Develop and conduct a three-hour training on Corrective Action and Progressive Discipline and present to at least two departments by 6/30/10.
  2. On a quarterly basis, provide the number of participants who attended your Countywide and customized trainings.

Computer Programmer

  1. Survey your customers for recommended changes to program X by DATE.
  2. Outline your plan to upgrade program X by DATE.
  3. Write and test program by DATE.
  4. Provide data requirements to customers by DATE, requesting input by DATE.
  5. Implement new program and provide procedural instructions to customers by DATE.

Revenue Collector

  1. As a monthly average, contact at least 150 accounts per day.
  2. Category X cases will be in inventory for no more than 5 days before a first call is made.
  3. Cases over $5,000.00 and thirty days in arrears will have a lien filed within two days of first contact.

Legal Office Specialist

  1. Process 35 documents per day
  2. Complete phases one and two of assigned project by January 15
  3. Enter all new cases in the computer system within 24 hours of receipt

This communication should be in writing, and the employee and the manager should discuss any areas of the expectations that are unclear or changed from any previous expectations. When an employee is new on the job or has their expectations amended, a new copy should be given to the employee.

Performance evaluations must be done on an annual basis in order to ensure that the employee is fully informed of his or her progress and establish areas of increased emphasis. In addition to the yearly performance appraisal preparation, the manager should have documentation throughout the appraisal period that brings to the employee’s attention his/her positive accomplishments, as well as any concerns that must be addressed to keep performance at an acceptable level. Annual performance evaluations are also addressed in the County Manager’s Administrative Memorandum E-13 , dated January 24, 1996.

Counseling is the beginning of this process. However, the supervisor should always write notes or a memo confirming conversations with employees in order for the information to be usable in any resultant written evaluation. Throughout the process of informing the employee of deficiencies, the supervisor’s role, along with the manager, is to assist in improving performance, not only by bringing it to her or his attention, but by providing on-the-job training, consistent and frequent assistance, and by supporting the employee’s efforts through written communication.

Please see Sample Performance Improvement Plans.

When the supervisor has documented a pattern of clearly deficient performance that has failed to be corrected through the above process, a Special Review should be done, even though the employee’s annual performance evaluation is not due. Always confer with your manager and your Employee & Labor Relations Representative. It is vitally important to be consistent in your treatment of all employees. Interaction with management and Employee & Labor Relations will ensure your objectivity and the supportability of your final determination.

In the Special Review, two things are accomplished:

  1. Receiving written confirmation of the deficient performance places the employee on notice that an action may result if necessary improvement is not made. Although the Special Review process continues to offer the employee an opportunity to improve, it is important to inform the employee of the potential for demotion or dismissal if improvement is not made. This is not done to threaten the employee but to make the employee fully aware of the result of failure on their part to improve. This appraisal should be given to the employee in draft, and the employee should be informed that the evaluation will not become finalized until 10 days after. A final copy should be provided to the employee on the eleventh day.
  2. Specific objectives for the next 30-60 day period are set that should be more focused than the general objectives and standards. The employee should be able to meet them in the 30-60 day period, or be given a description of what part of a project should be accomplished in that period.

Any response given by an employee to the Special Review should be reviewed. It is important to consider the employee’s comments in good faith; otherwise, it can appear that you have “made up your mind” and are not open to the employee’s feedback and concerns. Your consideration can be to incorporate some of the employee’s comments into the final evaluation, or to state that his/her comments were considered but did not change the factual information already contained on the appraisal.

Follow up on the process as carefully as possible, giving subsequent evaluations every 30-60 days. This Special Review process must be continued until the employee either receives a standard rating or is demoted or dismissed. This cycle normally does not extend beyond three Special Reviews; each case however is reviewed on an individual basis.

The evaluations given during the Special Review cycle do not require that you give the employee 10 working days (two weeks) to respond to a draft. Since you are working closely with the employee on a very specific set of objectives over a short period of time, your interaction with the employee will allow the employee and yourself to discuss any concerns/objections.

A manager’s active review of subordinate supervisors will ensure that supervisors are communicating standards and monitoring performance on a regular basis. The same monitoring and counseling done with individual employees by the supervisor is also a part of the manager/supervisor relationship.