Standards of Performance for the Work of Your Team

The creation of a team to accomplish a goal, in and of itself, confirms that company leadership believes it’s doubtful that any one person has the working knowledge required to accomplish a particular objective. By creating a team, the company acknowledges the need for the cooperation and coordination of individuals with specialized skills to complete assigned tasks in a time- and cost-efficient manner. To communicate expectations for each major team activity, project sponsors and team leadership define and enforce performance standards.

Purpose of Team Standards

  1. Team performance standards promote teamwork, encourage the effective transmission of information and ensure team members work collectively to manage the quality of the group’s work products. Standards are a way to ensure a team efficiently and effectively completes the activities required to produce the project’s deliverables, which are the products or services the team provides at the end of the project. Standards, such as those pertaining to decision making, communication, conflict resolution and meeting protocols, impose accountability and values that are unique to a team.

Types of Performance Standards

  1. The best performing teams are those for which leadership develops and implements standards based on the measures that contribute to the team’s performance. For example, leadership might create quality standards that describe how the team should perform its work or how effective a final product must be in the performance of its function. In addition, leaders might create a quantity standard that specifies the quantity of work a team must produce or the quantity that must be error-free. A standard might also state the date by which team members must complete particular activities. Leadership also might create a standard that requires the reduction of costs or a decrease in waste during a production process by a certain percent. Regardless of the types of standards defined, each one should be measurable, objective and documented.

Examples of Performance Standards

  1. After leaders identify and agree on appropriate performance measures, they can write the team standards, which set expectations for how a job duty is to be performed. For example, a duty of a customer service representative team is to respond to customer questions about a product. A performance standard for this duty might be to answer a customer’s questions in four minutes or less. A performance standard for a software programming team tasked with writing billing programs might be to create source code that reflects a harmonized style as if one programmer, rather than a team, wrote the code.

Considerations for Team Standards

  1. Performance standards not only control the day-to-day behavior of team members, but they also serve as a basis for team member appraisals. In addition, team standards influence team decisions and the implementation of corrective actions. Consequently, when creating team performance standards, it’s important to consider how excellent performance might be defined. For example, establish which qualitative, quantitative, schedule or financial criteria should be used to measure excellent performance. Leaders must also think about the number of standards that are needed and how accurate the performance measures must be. Those creating team standards must also contemplate budget and safety issues, as well as legislative or regulatory requirements.