Developing employee performance plan

Performance development planning is the process of setting short-term objectives for specific employees in a given position. Each performance plan sets the direction for an employee’s professional performance improvement according to the needs of an organization. In other words, a thoroughly developed plan creates a win-win situation in which the employee is motivated and supported in reaching his career goals, and the organization reaps the fruit of higher productivity. Meanwhile, by reviewing these plans, HR managers get meaningful information on the competency and efficiency of individuals and teams.

Quality performance development plans are also vital tools for underperforming teams; such plans indicate areas for improvement as well as strategies for reaching the indicated performance standards. The tips below explain the steps to take when creating a development plan for improving employee performance. 

1. Consider the Goals of the Company or Department

To align development plans with the current needs of the organization, start by examining short- and long-term business objectives. For instance, a range of new positions may soon open, or current employees may need to learn additional skills to succeed in new business ventures. Consider the skills and knowledge employees need to gain to fulfill their responsibilities – whether or not it was listed in the job description. As your business develops, roles may change. By focusing on developing internal staff, you save considerable amounts on recruiting or hiring outside specialists. Moreover, much research shows that providing development opportunities is a key component of retaining top talent.

Short-term business objectives are important because they pave the way towards fulfilling longer-term goals. Some short-term business goals might be: 

  • Achieve 95% positive customer feedback during the current month

  • Increase website traffic by 5% by the end of the month

  • Analyze consumer buying trends on a monthly basis. 

  • Host a promotional event

  • Some examples of long-term business objectives are: 

  • Build a social media following

  • Align your department with the company’s overarching goals

  • Double website traffic within 2 years

2. Have a Discussion With Employees

To create a working development plan, you need to analyze the employees’ current performance levels and understand their desired career paths. This enables you to offer them advancement opportunities within the organization that they will find challenging and rewarding. Discuss the knowledge and personal attributes employees need to develop to succeed in a current (or new) role. This would also be an excellent time for you to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each employee. Be sure to speak transparently and encourage the same from your employee. You will not be able to properly set performance expectations if you are too vague. 

3. Set SMART Goals

One of the most common mistakes in development planning is a misunderstanding of performance standards and measurement. To avoid this, use the SMART approach to goal setting and ensure that every performance goal is:

Specific – It’s clear what the employee is supposed to do and how he is purposed to do it.
Measurable – It’s possible to determine whether the task was accomplished or not.
Achievable – The goal is realistic within a given time frame.
Relevant – The expectations correlate with the employee’s scope of responsibility.
Time Focused – There’s a deadline for achieving the goal.

Now that we know the basics of developing a SMART goal, let’s look at an example. An employee’s goal might be “Increase conversions the product landing page by 10% in eight weeks. I will do this by implementing A/B testing on five different conversion-focused elements.” 

  • Specific -  The goal has a focus and a specific plan for achieving it. 

  • Measurable – A 10% increase in conversions is measurable. 

  • Achievable – Given the eight-week time frame and the 10% figure, this is a realistic goal. 

  • Relevant – As long as this goal aligns with the employee’s role in the company, the goal is relevant. 

  • Time Focused – The eight-week component adds an element of time to the SMART goal. 

4. Develop an Action Plan

Now that the performance goals and expectations are set, it’s time to think over the particular actions that are necessary to achieve the goals. If a performance evaluation reveals a lack of knowledge of the given role, the employee needs to attend formal training or devote more time to self-education; some may also benefit from coaching or collaboration with experts. To create an action plan, you should consider the resources needed for a smooth development process (i.e. costs of training or other people’s time and expertise).

5. Continuously Monitor and Evaluate Employee Progress

Conduct periodic meetings with employees or simply collect feedback to track the progress of development plans. Some performance attributes develop faster than the others, so your task will be to identify and discuss areas with little to no improvement and make corrections to the plan until the desired level of performance is achieved. Don’t just provide negative feedback during a performance review though; in order to foster a healthy work environment, you should be sure to tell your employees what they are doing right. Show them that you recognize their progress. 

If you aren’t confident with your ability to deliver an effective performance review, we recommend giving feedback by following the “stop, start, continue” model. This means that you tell the employee what they are doing that isn’t working, what they are doing that is very effective, and what actions they should take to be even more effective. Be as specific as possible! Give them targeted praise and exact advice. Rather than telling them that they need to be more proactive, perhaps tell them that they should initiate cold calls more frequently. This is the same with positive feedback. Instead of telling an employee that they are innovative, you should give them an example of a time you noticed their innovation, and encourage them to continue. 

Staff training and development is a costly process, and to make the cost of development profitable for your organization, employees should have the opportunity to apply newly learned skills and knowledge at the workplace straight away. This will help maximize your return on investment. 

Employee work and productivity development plans are the essential tools that allow you to support employee learning and growth by getting the best out of their skills and personal attributes. This results in higher productivity and increased job satisfaction. More importantly, you contribute to employee development based on your organization’s needs – this impacts organizational outcomes and supports your company’s overall goals. Automate your performance management processes with Lanteria HR software.


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