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Comp people who are obsessed with cookbook rules and regulations prefer rigid performance categories defined to two decimal places. Of course, that is impossible, indefensible or at least incredible and flat silly to any serious student of human behavior.

I favor the latter more flexible and realistic view, that virtually everyone can agree on the truly superior performance level. If they can't agree, it might remain "very good" but not the "top best most excellent superior".

Adjectives are subjective and used too loosely. Simply require two or maybe even three additional higher levels of approval, and it will work. Like the US Medal of Honor which requires both full military chain of command and Congressional approval. Few are granted, but all are deserved.


I don't deny your characterization!

Thanks for weighing in - I'll put you in the "no" column relative to pre-definition.

I agree that a sound calibration process can help iron out the questions on the back end. I guess my concern lies more with the front end - and giving sufficient direction to the employee who yearns to excel, but can't get the info from their boss that they need to get there. We may be able to figure it out on the back end without pre-definition, but have we laid a sufficiently helpful path to success for the inspired employee?

Heck no! and hence the great justification for your raising the entire issue. It is called "communication" and encompasses philosophies, directions, expectations, standards, feedback mechanisms, information access sources, instant corrective alerts, daily "atta-boys," etc. Not just the means and metrics but also the goals, standards and objectives tend to change constantly, too. No wonder both boss and subordinate yearn for a universal easy answer, because it just doesn't exist. Heck, I wrote a 500-page book on how to do it, and I don't have all the answers, either.

Granted, you can produce canned pre-established rigid sets of parameters for "clear" administration, but that neither makes them neither continually appropriate nor always effective. Like walking, management is a constantly changing balance of movement.

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I have often been frustrated in jobs where I wasn't sure what "exceeds expectations" meant. I favor pretty clear and well defined standards. I can do excellent work, but usually find myself working in situations where I don't share the corporate culture or values. I'm willing to adapt, or at least fake it, since I don't really have a choice about working in such situations, but I'm not good at intuiting what management wants, because we have so little in common. Clear standards, or at least broad hints, would be helpful.

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