Finalizing Performance Expectations

Put Expectations in Writing

A written summary of your discussions during the planning process serves as a record of your mutually understood expectations. Putting expected results (objectives and standards) and expected actions/behaviors (performance dimensions) in writing is useful when

  • Allocating resources,
  • Discussing budgets, and
  • Prioritizing programs.

Mutually developed written expectations also help focus feedback and minimize ambiguity when it is time to assess results.

Verify Expectations

Performance expectations should be verifiable. Early in the performance management cycle, you, with input from the employee, should identify how and where evidence about the employee's performance will be gathered. 

Measurable (quantitative) expectations are the easiest ones to verify. Frequently, however, expectations cannot be put into measurable terms easily or accurately. At this point, consider developing qualitative expectations, which can generally be made verifiable by spelling out the criteria to be fulfilled, behaviors to be demonstrated, and/or target dates to be met.

Specifying how performance expectations will be verified at the time the responsibility is assigned helps employees keep track of their progress and makes check-in meetings and performance status updates much more focused and efficient.

There are many ways to verify performance; some of the most common are:

  • Specific work products (tangible evidence that can be reviewed without the employee being present)
  • Reports and records, such as attendance, safety, inventory, financial records, etc.
  • Checklists that can be completed by a client or supervisor listing specific, observable criteria that need to be met in order for an expectation to be considered complete. Criteria usually require a “yes” or “no” answer, such as: “implement a new program by [x] date.”
  • Direct observation
  • Rating scales that define, as precisely as possible, behaviors at different levels of performance (behaviorally anchored rating scales).
  • Commendations or constructive or critical comments received about the employee's work