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Defining Performance Standards, Key Result Areas

Developing Performance Standards

While performance elements tell employees what they have to do, the standards tell them how well they have to do it. The first article in this series defined and reviewed the characteristics of critical, non-critical, and additional performance elements. This article reviews the principles of writing good standards that can be used effectively to appraise employee performance of those elements.

A performance standard is a management-approved expression of the performance threshold(s), requirement(s), or expectation(s) that must be met to be appraised at a particular level of performance. A Fully Successful (or equivalent) standard must be established for each critical element and included in the employee performance plan. If other levels of performance are used by the appraisal program, writing standards for those levels and including tem in the performance plan is not required by is encouraged so that employees will know what they have to do to meet standards higher than Fully Successful.

Example of Performance Standards for PA Positions

(I) Develops project objectives, budgets, work plans and implementation strategies:

  • Consistent with departmental goals
  • Communicates clearly to all levels
  • Falls within budget guidelines
  • Can reasonably be accomplished in specified time frame
  • Follows up and resolves problems in timely manner to keep project on track.

(II) Analyzes synthesizes and communicates financial information and data in complex account structures; uses data to develop budget and financial plans:

  • Uses appropriate sources of information
  • Uses the most recent data
  • Meets specified deadlines
  • Conclusions and recommendations are justified by the data
  • Federal, state and university guidelines are followed

(III) Designs/develops and negotiates contracts with clients and vendors:

  • Contracts are clear, complete and reflect the needs of the unit
  • Negotiation skills are such that the best value is achieved for the institution
  • Solutions are effective and mutually acceptable
  • Good client and vendor relationships are maintained
  • Contracts are consistent with all federal, state and university policies and procedures

(IV) Develops policies and/or interprets and implements all federal, state, local and university policies, procedure and regulations:

  • Policies are clearly written and include all necessary components
  • All pre-approval steps have been followed to include necessary in-put from concerned parties
  • Sufficient research is conducted to provide accurate background knowledge necessary to the process of development and/or interpretation
  • Communication regarding policies is done in a timely manner to all affected groups and in an unambiguous, customer friendly manner

(V) Performs management duties with accountability and authority for the strategic direction of the department:

  • Planning, budget, staffing, resource allocation, policy development, staff supervision, etc.
  • The unit is in compliance with governmental and university policies and procedures
  • Staff morale remains high
  • Complaints about personnel, leadership and work of department are minimal
  • Organizational goals are achieved in timely manner

(VI) Assists students with academic problems and/or advises students regarding degree requirements:

  • Works with students in a customer oriented manner
  • Gives accurate information
  • Keeps updated on requirement changes and keeps students informed
  • Knows and utilizes resources to resolve problems

Key Result Areas

Definition: Key result areas or KRAs refer to the general metrics or parameters which the organization has fixed for a specific role. The term outlines the scope of the job profile, and captures almost 80%-8% of a work role.

Description: Key result areas (KRAs) broadly define the job profile for the employee and enable them to have better clarity of their role. KRAs should be well-defined, quantifiable, and easy to measure. It also helps employees to align their role with that of the organization.

KRAs are broad categories or topics on which the employee has to concentrate during the year. For example, an employee who is working at a managerial level in a manufacturing company would have a different KRA than somebody who is in a technology firm.

A manager who is working in a manufacturing firm would have to focus on maintaining the budget of the department, safety of the employees, coordination with different departments, training, reporting as well as introducing new technologies to improve productivity.

The next step is to define objectives and standards for each KRA which should be easily quantifiable. The employee should have a clear understanding of his/her KRAs to perform his/her tasks efficiently.

Key result areas are those areas in which you have to take complete ownership. The first step is to list out daily activities which could be part of the KRAs. In some organization even a team meeting everyday is part of a manager’s KRA.

So, KRAs could be vary from organization to organization and from one work profile to another. There are no set rules to define KRAs, but broadly they sum up the job profile as well as the key impact areas on which the employee is expected to deliver

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