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Management standards definition: find out exactly what they are

Published 25th January 2017 by Melissa Farrington
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What are management standards?

Management standards are established, proven methods and frameworks - based on sound theory and practice - that are improved over time as society, industry and technology evolve. They are set and maintained by recognised industry bodies and provide a consistent approach that allows organisation to achieve success in repeatable ways.

People management standards

People management is complex and involves many different factors.

Yet study after study has proven how important effective people management is to organisational success.

People management standards represent proven strategies that have been shown to improve performance. Investors in People is a people management standard.

Risk management standards

Management standards around risk give organisations established ways of managing, reducing, protecting against and mitigating risk.

Often these are used in industries dominated by risk, such as shipping, logistics and insurance. FERMA offers a risk management standard.

Project management standards

Project failure or success can come down to how well the project has been planned, managed and implemented.

Project management standards offer robust methods for effectively managing all parts of the project lifecycle. PRINCE2 is probably the most recognised project management standard.

Stress management standards

Stress in the workplace is a productivity killer and strongly correlated with poor wellbeing and poor performance outcomes. Tackling it is important for organisations.

Most talk of stress management standards relates to the HSE’s Management Standards for Work-Related Stress, although good-quality people management standards will build stress reduction into their frameworks.

Management standards: what do the best offer?

  • Continuous improvement: you don’t want to use standards underpinned by a ‘pass or fail’ mentality. The ability to adapt to changing external conditions is a success factor for all organisations in the modern world. Seeking improvement must be a mindset and a daily goal. The best management standards offer maturity curves, so organisations are primed to continuously seek ways to make themselves better.
  • Context and comparison: every industry is different and while there is best practice across all organisations, most businesses are keen to compare themselves against similar-sized organisations or competitors in their marketplace. Look for standards that offer you insight into the best and worst performers, both in your industry and more widely.
  • Adaptable: society, industry, research and best practice change all the time and it’s important management standards maintain their evidence base and pedigree while flexing to adapt to a rapidly-shifting world.
  • Aspirational: it’s great when you meet the demands of a standard but organisations need stretch goals in order to thrive, innovate and improve. Standards should offer milestones for celebration and paths to make more progress.
  • Inclusive: management standards should involve all parts of the organisation because this is how you progress as a company. They shouldn’t just cover how leaders perform but their relationship with wider stakeholders, how work is performed at all levels and how people work together. The best standards are inclusive by design.