The establishing of a performance standard is a critical part of the procedure. A standard is that which is established as a model, a criterion, or a rule of measurement. It is the answer to what is a good: Sunday school teacher, Sunday school room, worship service, youth program, etc. A unit of measurement that gauges the performance must be established; and then the quality of this unit generated by the person whose performance is being measured must be observed. The leader and the followers need to come to an agreement regarding the quality of work that is to be accomplished. Many times neither a leader nor his followers know what quality or even quantity of work is expected. Unless performance standards are clearly defined, with measurable terminology, people have no way of knowing what is expected of them. The evaluator must also know exactly what he is looking for if the evaluation process is to culminate in a competent report.
Standards are available for some programs to help with the process of evaluation and control.
1. The Southern Association of Colleges and Universities accredit Liberty University. This accrediting association, as well as all others, has established a set of minimum standards for an accredited college.
2. The Southern Baptist Convention has standards established for Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible Schools, and if a church operates their program in such a way that the standards are achieved, the church can receive a certificate of recognition.
3. Lowell Brown has written an excellent book called Sunday School Standards, that sets standards for a Sunday school to use in evaluation and control.
4. In most states, if a church wants to establish a day care center, they will need to get a booklet of minimum standards for a non-profit day care center from the child welfare department of the state government.
The establishment of a unit of measurement is one of the most difficult parts of this task. We use inches and feet to measure distance, candlelight power to measure light, decibels to measure sound, pints and quarts to measure liquids, and other units to measure other things. A unit of measurement of performance must be established for a task. This can be a very difficult task for some service-type jobs. However, if it is not done, then how can a worker know what he is to do? How can a worker know if he is “good” at his job or not if performance standards have not been established?
Although the task will not be easy, a number of things could be considered for measuring the effectiveness of a church or church staff position:
1. The pastor might be evaluated on the basis of attendance, budget, buildings, and baptisms.
2. A youth pastor might be evaluated on the basis of attendance, baptisms, volunteers for full-time Christian service, and number attending Bible colleges.
3. A Minister of Education might be evaluated on the basis of attendance, involvement of membership, and organization efficiency.
4. A day school principal might be evaluated on the basis of the achievement test scores, or the number of graduates going on to college.
Standards for a church could be developed based on purpose, organization, leader-ship, facilities and equipment, growth, finances, planning, reports, and other factors.
Some sample standards are suggested below:
1. An annual increase in attendance of 15%.
2. An annual increase in receipts of 20%.
3. A ratio of baptisms to church membership of 1 to 10.
4. Adding three times more church members than church members lost for all reasons.
5. An average gift of $20 each Sunday for every Sunday School attendee.
6. A budget distribution of 10% for missions and 30% each for staff, programming, and building.
7. No emergency financial appeals.
8. A Sunday School enrollment age distribution that has the same percentages as the age distribution of the area.
9. A fellowship group for every 25 adult members.
10. Seventy percent of adult members having a ministry position.
11. Sixty percent of Sunday School workers completing a training course in the past year.
12. Average of one pastor for every 125 people in attendance on Sunday morning.
Many recommend that the worker prepare the first draft of performance standards. The standard must be built upon the job description. Each of the major responsibilities assigned on the job description should be listed. State the conditions that will exist when these responsibilities have been met. Some newer job descriptions are actually including this type of quantitative qualifying data in them. This should answer such questions as what, how, when, and how many. This actually becomes the standards for the position. The supervisor will then go over these performance standards with the worker.
A type of management by objective approach is sometimes used with management or professional level or workers. Here the worker writes goals for a specific time period, and plans strategies to accomplish these goals, and then has this reviewed by his supervisor. These goals then become the standard used to evaluate his performance. One pastor is using a goal sheet for this purpose called a SCRAM sheet. The letters in the word SCRAM stand for Specific, Challenging, Realistic, Attainable, and Measurable. The title of this sheet is very suggestive, you either meet your goals, or out you go––scram. This is too negative, but the evaluation based on goals used as a standard is a good concept.
Criteria for standards
Five sources of criteria for standards are available:
1. A normative standard can be set which will be based on what ought to be and is somewhat theoretical. This is an ideal standard.
2. A standard could be developed from the historical records of the organization, which would base the standard on what has been done in the past and be an average.
3. The competition could be used; base the standard on what others are doing. The Yearbook of American Churches, denominational reports, or a survey of local churches could be used for this.
4. Critical areas for success could be determined and the standards could be based on the accomplishment of these critical areas. These critical areas are necessary to survive. An income of a certain amount (break-even point) may be a critical area.
5. Currently attainable standards would be based on very efficient operating conditions. They will be very difficult, but not impossible to accomplish. This is probably more than the past historical, and maybe more than the competition, and certainly more than the critical areas for success, but less than the ideal.
Guidelines for standards
Standards should reflect the objectives and priorities of the organization. The standards should be attainable, but challenging. The currently attainable is probably the best source. The standards should allow for a margin of error. It is better to set an acceptable high and low mark, and anything in-between is okay. A system of unnecessarily tight controls will strangle the flow of new ideas essential for the continued growth of the organization and will lead to its death.
The standards that are established should be consistent from year to year. The standard should contain a unit of measure where it is clear when it is met. The standards should emphasize the work in progress and measure it rather than waiting until a task is finished and evaluating the past history. Using standards this way causes correction to be too late. Standards should measure results and not just activity. The church has a lot of activity, but we need results.
Standards should reflect what others are doing (average of competition), but also be individualized for the person and program. Don’t control the trivia. Controls might be established for long-distance phone calls, but please not for use of paper clips.