What kind of requirements can performance standards set?
Employee performance standards must be precise enough to invoke a general agreement regarding their meaning, and must provide a firm benchmark toward which employees can aim their performance. The degree of objectivity and specificity required in performance standards varies with the position. Positions with greater discretion and independence frequently require less objectivity and specificity in their performance standards.

An agency may not hold an employee to a standard that requires perfect performance—not a single error during the rating period—unless the agency can show that death, injury, or a breach of security could result from a single failure to fulfill the standard. Also, a performance standard that describes acceptable performance in terms of what employees should not do, but fails to inform them of what they should do, is an invalid “backward standard.”

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