Performance Development Plan

First published on Thursday, May 04, 2023

Last updated on Thursday, May 18, 2023

Without work performance and engagement, it's hard to grow overall business success. The best way to achieve this is through creating a performance development plan.

These plans help both a manager and employee understand what actionable steps are needed to hit certain employment goals.

Without effective performance management, you may end up losing talented employees and even stagger their personal growth.

In this guide, we'll look at what a performance development plan is, what the benefits are, and how to create performance plans for your employees.

What is a performance development plan?

A performance development plan is a strategy that helps an employee reach their personal goals or overall work targets.

Performance development planning can help with:

  • Setting goals and objectives for individuals or entire teams.
  • Creating an action plan (including a timeline) to help reach professional goals.
  • Scheduling regular check-ins to review the process and provide feedback.
  • Keeping their development planning process updated.

Performance management and development is all about helping to improve employee performance and productivity. Managers can create a plan for an individual; or design strategies for an entire team or department to follow.

Why is performance development planning important?

Effective performance management and development doesn't just help with manifesting your business objectives. It also helps employees who are struggling to meet individual goals or work expectations.

Let's look at what creating a performance development plan is important for businesses:

Clear expectations

Performance development planning allows employees to understand what is expected from them (in relation to their job). It facilitates employee engagement because they become aware of how to work productively and efficiently.

These plans also help remove any confusion when it comes to individual or team targets. And they offer feedback on improving employee performance.

Professional development

Performance plans help employees grow their own professional development goals. They make it easier to track progress and develop skills whilst in their current job.

Performance management and development is also useful when structuring business practices to help employees in specific roles; or those who may need direction with career development.

Future growth

Performance management and development doesn't just help employees in their current role. It also supports future opportunities for them.

Employees can acknowledge how to focus on reaching these goals - allowing them to grow their personal skills and knowledge.

Performance reviews

Personal development plans are useful when it comes to discussing the employee's role or job. It's especially handy when using performance reviews or staff appraisals.

Reviews open up discussions on the findings of an employee's performance assessment. From here, their manager can pinpoint what they achieved or need to improve on.

Examples of different performance development activities

There are so many strategies that help employees develop skills or project management.

Managers must be able to identify what an employee needs in order to achieve the best from them at work. Let's look at different performance development activities:

  • Provide available resources for new projects.
  • Introduce workshops and seminars.
  • Offer additional training and certification courses.
  • Provide mentoring and volunteering.

Each activity provides employees with endless opportunities to achieve new skills and knowledge. From here, they're able to perform better in their current position or work their way up the business ladder.

Is performance management and development a legal requirement?

No, there is no law or statutory step-by-step guide on performance management and development.

But, you can face numerous consequences if you don't have a solid development planning process in place. For example:

  • Employees won't know what their personal or business objectives are.
  • Managers won't be able to measure out key performance indicators (KPIs) properly.
  • Managers aren't fully aware of what an employee wants from their role or position within the business.
  • Businesses will have an inconsistent record (or no record) of employee evaluations and progress.

How often should you create a performance development plan?

There's no legal timeframe on how often you should create a performance development plan. However, there are certain steps you should take to achieve the best outcome from them.

Managers can create a brand-new performance plan when a new employee joins the business. Think about making them within the first three months of employment.

Performance plans should ideally document an employee's everyday progress. So, make sure you review and update them on a regular basis. For example, a manager can hold a short, informal review once a month; and then hold a formal review meeting every six months.

How to develop employee performance development plans

When it comes to a performance management and development process, it's all about how you intend to utilise it.

Some managers will prioritise collaboration or communication. Others will concentrate on individual objectives. It's important to outline performance planning to support employees in all work areas.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to develop an effective performance development plan:

Identify key goals

The first step managers should take is to identify key goals for the plan.

Each employee or team will require goals that are specific to their needs and level. Some might need to improve their communication skills with colleagues. Or, maybe you want to change your work strategies to achieve better performance expectations.

Managers should start by outlining set goals which highlight the overall direction and reason behind the development plan. Goal setting can also be used for both short and long-term objectives.

Decide on the structure

The next step is to decide how the development plan should be structured.

Managers may choose to outline one large goal, along with several smaller objectives. Or you can select goals which solely track progress.

When you create a development plan, make sure it's clear and transparent for your employee or team. The more tailored it is, the easier it'll be when executing them over time.

Set a deadline to review

Managers should then set a deadline to review the performance development plan.

A review process will help identify any issues within the plan, as well as encourage accountability for certain situations.

Set regular check-ins once per monthly for a quick overview. For example, managers can schedule a formal review date after every six months.

Encourage collaboration between teams

In some cases, managers may need to reach goals for their overall business. It's best to encourage collaboration, so your staff can collectively strive towards team goals.

Employees can help each other to track progress for shared objectives. This helps develop employee engagement, motivation, and overall professionalism.

By encouraging collaboration, you'll be able to establish an action plan that accelerates business productivity and success.

Make adjustments to support progress

There might be times where managers notice a team-member is struggling with a certain goal or even their overall objectives.

If you find the process isn't working well, make adjustments to support them. Look at your employees' progress to identify opportunities for any changes. With the right support, their achievements will transition into consistent effort and output.

It might take time to identify what the best action plan is. But overtime, you'll be able to incorporate strategies that work best with your team.

Keep improving performance management and development plans

The last step managers need to consider is to keep improving your performance development plan.

Performance management and development is supposed to include finding issues and resolving them to help further an employee's personal progress.

If employees reach their set goals, don't just stop there. Create a new goal for them to keep motivated and enthusiastic when it comes to work development.

Is personal development planning and succession planning the same?

Both personal development planning and succession planning do focus on creating and achieving short and long-term objectives.

However, succession planning is specifically about employees moving up within a company or growing their own career path. Succession planning ensures employees achieve the skills and knowledge needed to move into higher job-roles when these opportunities present themselves.

You can identify succession planning within a personal development plan. But it's not always required, especially if an employee wants to stay in their current role.

Get expert advice on performance development plans with Bright HR

There are so many factors involved in performance development. But that doesn't mean you should ignore the benefits these plans come with.

Every line-manager should provide fair and accurate performance development plans for their staff. If you don't, you may end up losing talented employees and even stalling their personal development.

If you need feedback on performance development plans, we're here to help. Call our BrightAdvice helpline and speak to our helpful HR professionals today - on 0800 783 2806.

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