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What Is Job Performance?

By Jan Fletcher
Updated May 16, 2024
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Job performance is the sum total of a worker's execution of assigned tasks. Grouping, assigning, analyzing, and evaluating a worker's job performance generally involve human resource expertise. Managerial personnel may also be involved in these areas of responsibility, because of their knowledge of overall production and workflow.

Job standards quantify job performance in objective and subjective terms, typically using benchmarks to assess how well the worker met the employer's expectations over a given period of time. In manufacturing settings, these benchmarks may be oriented toward easily measurable outcomes, such as assessing how well an individual employee's work met a specific production quota. In service jobs, the outcomes may be specific, based on criteria such as how many customers complained, or a drop in sales. Accurately assessing performance in these situations, however, is often more challenging than in manufacturing settings in which individual output can be mathematically measured. In both cases, an individual's overall attitude is commonly assessed as well.

In operations involving many workers, there may be a separate department or even multiple departments within the organization that have responsibility over assessing job performance. In smaller organizations, it may fall to just a few people, or even one person in a very small organization or business. If workers are members of a labor union, job requirements and job evaluations may be negotiated by the union. In such cases, managers have less flexibility to change those requirements.

Management uses data from performance evaluations to make operational decisions that will enhance productivity. Since human behavior is a large component of job performance, a managerial task is to ensure that job standards accurately match not only the production tasks, but also that the individual's expertise is a good match for the tasks. If a worker falls short on a performance evaluation, the problem may lie in a mismatch of job description to employee. This can occur if a particular position's duties evolve slowly over time.

If there are gaps between the two, then additional job training, or revising training protocols, may correct the deficiency. Sometimes, the individual must be reassigned to an area that provides a better match, or the person is terminated by the employer and replaced with another person. Assessing job performance is typically done annually for long-term workers, and more often in a new hire's first year.

There are pitfalls inherent in evaluating a worker's performance that companies attempt to avoid. Improperly handling an evaluation can result in lowering a worker's morale, or creating enmity with other workers who may perceive real or imagined inequity. Properly quantifying performance through objective measures can help a company avoid some of these pitfalls.

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Discussion Comments
By Moldova — On May 19, 2011

@Sunshine31 - I wanted to add that I used to work for a company that would ask me to do a self appraisal and then my manager would give me his appraisal of my performance.

This was really effective because it gave me an opportunity to see what I was doing well and what areas I could improve upon. This also saved my manager a lot of time because we agreed on a lot of the points and it helped us foster a better working relationship because we were on the same page.

My performance appraisals were always helpful.

By sunshine31 — On May 18, 2011

@Comfyshoes - I agree that an employee performance evaluation should be more frequent than once a year because it gives an employee a chance to correct problems with the job performance and you should also be able to acknowledge what the employee did well and not wait a year to tell them that.

I think that if you give timely feedback that employee should know what to expect at the performance appraisal meeting. This really eliminates a lot of the stress of the job performance appraisal.

By comfyshoes — On May 17, 2011

I think that monthly performance reviews are a good idea for new employees that might need more feedback. This way the employee knows what is expected and the performance is monitored to make sure that they are following proper procedures.

It also is a morale booster especially if the manager is able to find something fantastic that the employee did. This will motivate the employee to continue and they will look forward to the job performance review.

It also gives the employee a chance to ask questions about a situation that they did not know how to solve. I used to work for a company that did this and the performance reviews were always so motivating.

It was a sales position so I would get copies of my statistics before the review so that I could discuss the statistics with my boss.I knew exactly where I stood and really looked forward to my reviews.

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