Benjamin Franklin said, "...by failing to prepare; you are preparing to fail." Therefore, performance planning in business is vital to both the success of the employees and the company overall. Without proper preparation, your operation won't run smoothly. So, where do you begin? If you are unclear what performance planning entails - it's a structured approach consisting of several steps to achieve outlined goals either for an individual team member or a team within the organization. But before you formulate a plan, it's essential to understand why performance planning is needed.
Objectives of performance planning
1. Clearly defined business goals
Before you can develop a team or individuals within your organization, you must first have vital business goals in place. In other words, what are your short-term and long-term objectives for your organization? If there are areas marked for improvement, make sure you have goals in place to resolve these. Corporate communication is key to successful organizations, and having these goals in place will give you the foundation to build employee success. Plus, strong goals provide employees with a road map. And once they know they understand the company's direction, it will be easier to create goals on an individual or team level. Finally, without employees, you can't achieve your company goals. So by aligning the company and employees' goals, it acts as checks and balances on your goal creation.
2. Set expectations
Another objective of performance management is to define expectations both for employees and managers. For example, looking at the company's goals, what is reasonable regarding job duties and timeframes to complete these? Managers should work to get these goals achieved but not overload employees in the process. Plus, team leaders need to look at the skills of each team member to determine what workload is appropriate for each person. In return, senior management needs to set expectations for managers.
3. Open communication
The overall point of performance planning is to lay out a plan, but what looks good on paper may not translate once put into action. That's why there needs to be open communication between senior management, team leaders, and employees. Everyone should feel free to voice concerns, suggest changes, or suggest a shift in direction. So keeping an open mind and fluidity in project management is essential. Managers should check in regularly throughout the performance planning process to see how it's working. And vice versa, employees should communicate with each other and their managers.
4. Performance standards
How will you judge your performance planning? Before beginning your plan, figure out how you will analyze its success or failure. Every team member must pull their weight to achieve the goals. If they don't, the plan fails. So checking in at regular intervals with each employee is key for managers. On the flip side, employees should not wait until a problem snowballs to speak up.
5. Training needed
Most importantly, what training will your teams and employees need to meet this plan? Training not only benefits the company, but it promotes personal growth for employees, which increases their skills.
Creating a performance plan
Now that you understand the objectives of proper performance planning let's look at the steps in the process. Before you sit down with an employee or a team, it's important for you and the employees to prepare for this meeting.
Preparation steps for employees
Let your employees know you will be holding a performance review. It's important to give them advanced notice as to when this meeting will take place. Also, allow for enough time before the meeting to come prepared with the following questions answered. By having a roadmap of questions answered, it will give your meeting structure and allow the conversation to flow freely.
- What are your goals and objectives for yourself?
- What concerns do you have about your job?
- How can we correct what's not working?
- What are your job duties? Do these align with what you consider to be your job?
- Do your personal goals align with your professional goals?
- What do you need to achieve these?
Preparation steps for managers
After giving your employees a date and time for a meeting, there are a few steps to take before you sit down. Proper preparation is key to success.
Where to meet?
This may seem like an obvious answer, but you want your employees to feel open to discussing their feelings, goals, and anything that impedes them from reaching success. So pick a comfortable, private spot. This could be someplace offsite or a conference room away from other team members.
What was the past performance?
Gather any material like past performance reviews, positive/negative feedback from other co-workers/direct reports, and anything else that will give you insight for this recent meeting. This should include any goals that were not previously met or behavior patterns that need to be addressed.
What are the objectives?
Look at what your objectives are for your department or team. How will you meet these with the employees you are reviewing? Look at their strengths and weaknesses and figure out who is best for what job responsibilities. If these objectives are shifting before another performance review, plan by adding new job duties.
What training will be needed?
Continual learning is key to proper performance planning. So consider what training each employee you will be reviewing will need. Looking at their job duties, past performances, and weaknesses will give you a good idea of what their training plan should entail. Besides training in-house, consider things like coaching, attending conferences, and other offsite opportunities for growth.
What is this employee's job description?
Work with human resources to obtain each employee's job description. Sit down and look through their job responsibilities. See if what is on paper is what each person is tackling day-to-day. If not, you will need to adjust this when you sit down with every employee. After the planning is complete, it's time to start the performance planning review. Here are some simple steps managers and employees can take to help streamline the process.