Standards and Expectations Warning Flag 1 – Standards Creep

StrategyDriven Standards and Expectations Warning Flag articleHave you ever been confronted by a customer’s challenge that your product or service quality just isn’t what it used to be? Or notice the number of quality defects in your products or services has somehow increased over the past months, quarters, or years? Or felt so much pressure to get something done that you deemed the quality to be ‘good enough for government work?’

All of these are signs of standards creep; not a beneficial raising of the bar but rather an allowance of ever worsening performance.

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StrategyDriven Standards & Expectations Forum

Standards and expectations establish the how of work performance. These ‘hows’ represent leadership’s translation of the organization’s values to the everyday behaviors members of the workforce should exhibit when performing assigned tasks. (See Figure 1) Subsequently, performance standards form the basis against which individual and group behavioral performance is evaluated.

Effective performance standards are broadly communicated, consistently applied, and uniformly interpreted; yet allow enough flexibility and intent-based implementation so as to not stifle efficient work performance. Examined more closely, these characteristics imply:

  • Broadly Communicated – all members of the organization must be aware and understand the intent of performance expectations as well as the applicability to their job assignments
  • Consistently Applied – all members of the organization are held to the same high standards of performance all of the time
  • Uniformly Interpreted – standards are substantively defined so as to eliminate a great deal, if not all, of the subjectivity in their interpretation, thereby, clearly defining their implementation and enabling performance evaluation and comparison
  • Flexibility and Intent-Based Implementation – no set of standards can cover all possible situations, therefore, organization members must understand the value basis of the expectations such that they can reasonably define and exhibit the intended behaviors during unforeseen circumstances

Focus of the Standards & Expectations Forum

A high quality, effectively implemented set of standards and expectations are a critical component of the strategy driven organization. The combination of mission aligned task assignments, performance standards, and results goals establishes what is expected of strategy driven organization members. Articles in this area are dedicated to discussing the leading practices of companies that develop and implement performance standards that shape behaviors to the effective, efficient achievement of mission goals and organizational values. The following articles, podcasts, documents, and resources cover those topics important to clearly defined and well communicated performance standards well aligned to the organization’s mission goals and values.



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