Clarifying Work Requirements and Creating Employee Accountability

Employee performance usually improves when managers clearly communicate their expectations and employees understand the importance of meeting those expectations.

In establishing workplace standards and expectations, managers should take into account: 1) employees’ skills, training, and experience; 2) whether necessary resources are available, including adequate facilities, tools and equipment; and 3) how skilled direct supervisors are at managing others.

Basic Expectations

  • On time and ready to work as scheduled
  • Take scheduled time for lunch or other breaks
  • Observe safety rules
  • Observe operating rules and follow standard operating procedures
  • Comply with general rules of conduct
  • Work at a reasonable pace (provide a fair day’s work)

Job Performance Expectations

  • Effective management requires that managers clearly describe performance standards and expected outcomes.
  • If performance standards have been formally established and communicated by management, enforcement and dealing with problems is certainly easier.
  • If established performance standards do not exist, then the supervisor must determine and communicate what is reasonable job performance (what employees are expected to accomplish). This is an important responsibility and may require some careful thinking.
  • When performance falters, supervisors must determine why standards and expectations are not being met. Questions to consider when determining possible causes of sub-par performance:
    • Are employees fully trained?
    • Could there be misunderstandings about expectations?
    • Are there any operating or maintenance problems that negatively affect productivity?
    • Have you considered each employee’s capabilities?
    • Are you effective in your role as a supervisor?
    • Do employees understand the consequences – positive and negative – of their efforts and results?

Key Points to Remember

Managers must determine and communicate expected performance levels and outcomes in understandable terms. These are typically cascading goals that help each employee understand expected organizational, departmental and individual business results.

If managers or supervisors allow performance standards to slip, this lower level of performance soon becomes the new standard. It becomes more difficult to return to the original, higher standard.

Helping employees understand the link between their efforts and organizational results helps build accountability.  It takes additional time for supervisors and managers to communicate this concept to employees, but it yields greater accountability and better business results.