Create Benchmarks by Setting High

Performance Standards



             Analyze your team’s performance the last six months. Think about your work style and the work style of other people. Do some people work intensely and then require rest periods? Are others consistent workers who stay focused until work is completed? Who is it that works under pressure but tends to fade when someone is not providing close supervision? Who is on time and who is not? Who works late and does extra? You probably have all kinds of people who represent many different types of work styles. The productivity of your team or your department is a combination of everyone’s work habits.

            You can help your team maintain or achieve greater productivity by going through the process of creating high performance benchmarks or productivity standards. Performance standards help you create a fair and just standard for evaluating performance. It also enables you to refer to these standards as the targets to which each person should align his or her work. In this sense, setting performance standards is also a motivator. Benchmarking and setting standards can be done in a few simple steps.



1.       Discuss the Need for Standards

            Review positive achievements in the past and state that you are hoping to have an open and wide ranging discussion about the need for your team or department to improve performance. Ask questions about what each person thinks is necessary and listen to their ideas and answers. (Note:  Some people will complain about what other people are failing to do or finding ways to justify their past low performance. Listen attentively to these statements and return to asking questions and venturing your opinions.)



2.     Propose a Gradual Approach to Improvement


            You will have some measures of productivity whether you create, sell, or provide service. Suggest a standard of performance to be achieved and then indicate you wish to measure your new results every week. Ask for everyone’s agreement and discuss until you feel you have real consensus.



3.     Measure the Progress You Make


            Talk about your standards or benchmarks in meetings and periodically inform everyone about the progress you make or the lack of progress you are making. Do so without accusing or blaming. Simply inform and let the data you present tell the story.



4.     Recognize, Reinforce, and Appreciate


            Provide recognition for everyone who contributed to a new level of achievement. Department or team rewards should precede individual recognition.


            Benchmarks and standards affect people much the way goals do. When goals are set, performance improves. When benchmarks are clear and standards are set by a group of people, everyone tends to be more focused and more successful and achieves new results. Benchmarks are group standards. You can combine these group standards with your work with individuals. To do this, examine how your perception of other people can influence your ability to lead and supervise them.