What To Do When Your Manager has No Performance Standards

 In Company Culture/People At Work

When we embark on a career, we generally have visions of a fun, exciting adventure.  This is our opportunity to prove ourselves and all the things we’ve learned.  We plan to be successful.


Yet, all too often we join organizations or businesses who, for whatever reason,

haven’t figured out how to measure employee performance.  The performance is measured (if you want to call it that) by “gut”.  Clearly, the yardstick being held up to you are very subjective.  Your success or failure and what it takes to be that way is unclear.  You really don’t know what you’re shooting for nor does your manager.


This relegates your results to something like a work of art.  You’ll know good performance when you see it, which makes your job tenuous to a large degree.  How do you know if or when you are successful?


Although quite a few businesses operate this way, it doesn’t mean they have to stay that way.  It also doesn’t mean it’s a good situation for you or your career.  The issue with a lack of performance standards is that no one, including you or your boss, has true accountability.  This also means you could easily be fired simply because the boss felt like it.  Not that they don’t anyway but your situation is much more defensible if you were meeting performance standards or even consistently exceeding them.


If you have never had performance standards or measured performance, this may all seem like a hard concept to understand.  Many people think their work is not capable of being measured.  That is untrue for most jobs.  The exceptions are in the arts and entertainment industries.  The output of those jobs is truly works of art and success is in the eye of the beholder.  All the rest can be measured.


What should you do if your place of business or manager doesn’t have performance measurements?


1-    Ask for them – While this may not be something the boss can answer, it will get them to thinking.  This may be the nudge they need.

2-    Figure them out yourself – If you have done your job for some length of time, you probably understand what excellence is, even if you haven’t measured it.  You can start tracking the things that you think matter the most.  Once you start tracking it and figuring out how you’re performing, you can share it with your management.  It’s good to set the standards.

3-    Think: Quality, Quantity, Service Measurement, Accuracy, Expectations – If you’re having a tough time thinking through your measures use these words in questions.  What does quality of your work look like?  How do you know it is poor or excellent quality?  You may have work that must satisfy a client.  That may mean you seek feedback in the form of a quick survey.  It’s their opinion, not others that may matter the most.

4-    You may need to measure specific tasks or functions – If your job is fairly diverse, you may need to measure the major tasks in different ways.  An example:  If you manage a budget you may need to be measured on timely submission as well as how close your actuals were to budget.  Then, if you also manage people, you may need to measure their perception of your effectiveness.

When you start a new job, one of your first questions should be about how your performance will be measured.  If they can’t tell you, then make it your goal to get it figured out.  You can feel much more secure in your job when you know you’re truly hitting a target rather than just guessing.


For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook: http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIstayorShouldIGo.com/  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from www.nextchapternewlife.com and www.mbahighway.com


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