People are most likely to accept and comply with performance standards if they have a role in establishing them. In many companies and industries, certain standards are carved in stone — set by regulation or outside authority, or inherent in the work. Hospitals, colleges, universities, and other kinds of organizations are subject to quality expectations established by accrediting bodies. Without meeting these, they cannot remain in business. Standards that apply to the organization trickle down through all levels, becoming imbedded in job descriptions as well as performance evaluation procedures. Within these standards, there may or may not be room for variation, depending on the industry.
Even when it appears that there is little latitude for employee participation, there are usually small areas open to influence. For example, a hospital must require employees in patient care areas to wear certain clothing and protective aids to safeguard them against exposure to infectious diseases. Allowing employees to choose clothing in various colors, patterns, and designs gives them a dress code they can live with because they developed it.
Implementation and Adjustment
There's more to meeting performance standards than personal satisfaction. Salaries, as well as any bonuses, generally depend on how employees meet the performance standards. Some companies assign a percentage value to each standard. While sending follow-up notes might be worth just 2 percent, this function is essential to client satisfaction which, in turn, might be worth 25 percent of the total points. This kind of a system gives weighted importance to key functions, yet makes all activities essential to the whole.
Whatever system your department or company uses to set performance standards, as manager it's your job to make it work. If employees suspect that their participation has been an exercise in futility, it's all over for collaboration and teamwork. This is an invitation to frustration, disappointment, and office politics.