Your unique offer sets you apart from your competition as a digital agency. No two digital agencies are exactly alike, whether it's the type of work you do, your ability to turn projects around quickly, or the quality of your work. But every digital agency should still have internal standards of performance.
Performance standards help ensure your employees or contractors are all working to provide the same quality for your clients and follow the same procedures. They also help your digital agency maintain standards no matter who is working on the project.
What are the performance standards?
Performance standards are a set of expectations for employees, allowing them to be evaluated by management. While some standards may be the same for every employee, others may vary based on the position. Performance standards are set based on the job, not the individual, making it easy to assess each person on their work rather than comparing employees to each other.
Why should you care as an agency owner?
As an agency owner, your livelihood and your employees rest on how satisfied your clients are with your work. Suppose your employees or contractors aren't performing up to expectations, which impacts your clients' satisfaction. Eventually, it can affect your bottom line if clients switch agencies or leave bad reviews, discouraging future business.
Your performance standards give you an easy way to communicate your expectations with your team and also provide a way to discover when employees aren't meeting the business goals. These standards are also essential to developing your company culture reflecting directly on you and your agency.
Performance standards are the best way to evaluate and give feedback to each employee. They are also essential to ensure you're providing consistent work for your clients. When it's time to review employee performance, perhaps in consideration for a raise or a promotion, you need an objective way to evaluate each employee.
6 Common Agency Performance Standards
While performance standards vary between positions, there are several areas where every position should have set standards. Here are the most common areas to create performance standards.
Communication standards could include the preferred channels for both internal and external communication. They could also have measures like what type of language to use, how quickly to respond to emails, or which departments or individuals should reply to certain types of communication.
Usually, modern digital agencies expect a high level of collaboration between employees, and different departments, to help each other. And also foster open communication and constructive feedback and are willing to share work-related information with the team members to finish each project. Teamwork performance standards may include team productivity standards, team quality standards, or the ability of each team to meet internal deadlines.
Time management is one of the most common performance standards. Time management is essential for a digital agency when you're directly billing customers for the time your employees work on their projects. Standards could include:
- Time goals for completing specific tasks.
- Punctuality for beginning work each day.
- Productivity during working hours.
Time tracking software can help employees manage their time and ensure managers know their work hours.
Every employee will have challenges in their job, no matter their department. Employees' abilities to solve problems are crucial to maintaining high performance. Problem-solving standards could include identifying solutions when issues arise and being flexible when the situation calls for them.
Creativity can seem hard to measure, but it's a unique characteristic of employees. Some creativity performance standards may include problem-solving using existing resources, the ability to generate ideas for creative media and innovative solutions for client's needs, and feedback implementation to improve products or services.
Portraying your digital agency as a professional, reliable partner starts with employees' professionalism when speaking to each other and clients. Professional performance standards could include:
- Being trustworthy and reliable.
- Communicating in a way that portrays your company in a positive light.
- Acting with integrity.
How to establish the correct performance standards for your business
Before you set performance standards for your business, you need to know your goals as an agency. While there are probably a variety of metrics you use, these could include client retention, increased revenue, staffing increases, selling more of a specific type of product or service, or similar.
Now, think about how each employee can help meet those goals. What are the employee's job description and list of responsibilities? How will you know if they've been successful in their position? You can use these to help you craft business performance standards for each position within your agency.
What are some performance standard examples?
The standard of performance may be different for each employee. You'll have to decide what your agency needs from its employees and how each employee fits within the bigger picture of your agency and its needs. Here are some performance standards examples to help you begin brainstorming.
Examples of customer success positions
- Use respectful language when communicating with a customer.
- Respond to emails from customers within one business day
- Demonstrate integrity and honesty in all communications
- Provide accurate information to customers
- If an issue needs to be escalated to management, use appropriate channels and follow up with the customer within three business days.
Examples of administrative positions
- Appropriately route all incoming physical mail or email to the correct department or individual within one business day
- Schedule monthly staff meetings and notify each team member of the time and place
- Ensure office supplies are stocked
- Place office supply orders when necessary and notify accounting of all expenditures
- Answer the phone within two rings
Examples of IT positions
- Provide network and desktop support for the company
- Purchase new equipment when necessary, staying on budget
- Inform supervisor of anticipated issues
- Communicate with other team members with respect and integrity
- Ensure all systems and security are up to date
- Notify management if problems arise which may impact the company
These are certainly not exhaustive lists, but just a few examples of what some of your standards could be. Whatever your performance standards, ensure your employees are aware of them. You may want to provide them in an employee handbook or another written communication form to ensure everyone knows the expectations.
Employee performance standards allow you to evaluate each employee, present a united front to clients, and ensure your whole team is on the same page. Using software for time tracking and team collaboration can help keep projects moving, making measuring and monitoring performance standards easier.