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Job Related Performance Objectives & Performance Standards

Frequenty Asked Questions

Job Related Performance Objectives & Performance Standards

Performance objectives describe what is to be accomplished by the individual and/or the team or department over a defined period of time. These objectives need to be SMART (i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based) and agreed.

The performance standards define the required standard of performance required to achieve the objective.

Performance management involves a comparison of performance against the defined performance standards. Whilst the required standards will vary from organisation to organisation, there are a number of factors which can help guide the development of these standards.

The following characteristics will help ensure performance standards are fair and useful. The standards should:

  • be based on work performance and objective outcomes;
  • differentiate between successful and unsuccessful workers;
  • accurately reflect performance and performance variations;
  • be measured by someone who is at least partially in control of the person whose performance is being appraised;
  • be based on observations which are documented and job-related;
  • recognise the realities of the work to be performed;
  • draw on a clear, well-written position description;
  • be aligned to the organisation’s strategic and operational objectives; and
  • be agreed upon by all parties.

The performance standards set out the actions, behaviours or results to be achieved that are necessary for satisfactory performance.


In addition to individual, team and department performance standards, employees need to be made aware of the expected level of conduct and behaviour that is acceptable in the workplace generally. These standards are communicated through HR policy and procedure documents and are re-enforced by management attitude and overall adherence to such. This will have a significant impact on organisational culture and will help to avoid situations where employees are unsure of what is considered “acceptable” behaviour.

Some examples of typical policy and procedure documents containing conduct and behavioural standards are:

  • Code of conduct policies
  • Alcohol and other drugs policies
  • Staff dress policies
  • Social media policies
  • Workplace bullying polices
  • Equal opportunity, harassment and discrimination policies
  • Workplace health and safety policies
  • Use of company owned property policies etc.

In addition to these examples, specific performance management, discipline and termination policy and procedure documents should set out the consequences of underperformance and breaches of other HR policies.

In order to ensure employee conduct and behaviour is aligned with organisational expectations, it is essential that employees are aware of specific policy and procedure documents and understand their contents. This is particularly important if an employer alleges that an employee’s conduct was a breach of company policy and/or procedure and they wish to counsel the employee for misconduct, issue warnings or terminate their employment. The burden of proving awareness and understanding lies with employers and may expose organisations to legal risk if not discharged.

Policies and procedures need to be clearly expressed, communicated and understood, applied consistently, offer a level of certainty for employees regarding workplace norms.

This can be summarised as the “Five C’s of effective policies and procedures”:

  • Clarity
  • Communication
  • Certainty
  • Consistency
  • Consequences.

Best Practice Tip: Employers may need to make company documents available in other languages, braille, or in audio format to cater to diverse groups of employees. The greater the lengths an employer goes to in communicating organisational values and standards, the less risk they will attract if relying upon these for performance management and disciplinary procedures in the future.

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