Employee Performance Planning Made Simple

For decades, employee performance reviews have been the accepted way employers decide how well workers do their jobs. Yet for most, this process is an outdated formality riddled with flaws, making it rarely accurate or productive for future improvement. For most companies, performance reviews are based on observation only and typically highlight the most recent accomplishments or shortcomings of an employee. When these reviews are conducted only once a year, the results are misleading at best, and more often, highly inaccurate. 

Still, employers need a way to measure progress and reward employees for their contributions to an organization. With employee turnover reaching record rates across every industry, it’s clear that workers are seeking change. For employers, understanding what’s important to these workers will be the key to successful recruitment and retention. 

Millennials already make up the biggest sector of the workforce and Gen Z isn’t far behind. These younger workers are seeking something different from employment than the generations before them. While salary is still a vital incentive, 87% of millennials rank professional development and career growth as very important and 74% of Gen Z workers rank purpose above a paycheck. When performance reviews are failing to provide accurate results or motivate employees, and limiting the future of workers, they’re no longer a useful tool for employers.

By changing the way you measure success, you have the opportunity to better nurture young talent and provide a more accurate performance scale. Employee performance planning uses measurable data to identify strengths and weaknesses and set performance goals that align with company objectives. This practice provides a plan for advancement as well as actionable data to measure improvement and success rates. By learning more about performance management and the crucial planning phase, you can move beyond performance reviews to create a system that builds better employee and company performance and morale, and that helps increase your bottom line.

What Is Performance Management?

Performance management is an ongoing process of communication and actions between an employer and employee designed to set actionable goals and measure success related to accomplishing objectives related to these goals. The process works in a continuous cycle with four stages that include planning, monitoring, reviewing, and rewarding. Instead of simply measuring performance, this process is aimed at employee development to help employees perform their job to the best of their ability and potentially advance their careers within an organization.

Still, performance management doesn’t come without challenges. Without a clear plan to create an ongoing cycle of performance improvement that aligns with your company’s mission and specific criteria to measure results, performance management plans can fail to live up to their potential. These challenges are the most common issues that work to disrupt performance management systems.

  • Failure to set clear individual goals for employees leaves employees without clear milestones.
  • Employee goals aren’t linked to organizational goals.
  • No plan is created to accomplish specific goals.
  • Goals aren’t measurable to determine success levels.
  • Frequent feedback and coaching aren’t applied to assist improved performance or offer recognition for success.

What Are the Elements of Employee Performance Planning?

Employee performance planning is the critical first step in the performance management process and is a great way to give an employee a sense of direction and help them define the best way to advance in their career. This process should have distinct phases to identify a personalized employee path moving forward. While employee performance planning may depend on a variety of tools and management styles, the process should include the following crucial elements.

Identify Employee Strengths

Your team is made up of distinct individuals who have different strengths and weaknesses. Team performance is vastly improved when individual strengths are recognized and utilized. Employee strengths may include specific job-related skills or soft skills that help an employee excel in a specific role. Some important strengths recognized in high-performing employees include communication, planning, problem-solving, and collaboration.

Analyze the performance metrics and behaviors of each employee to identify specific strengths that can help you achieve company objectives. Follow up with an analysis of potential weaknesses. By comparing both strengths and weaknesses, you can define specific career opportunities for each member of your team. The results of this planning are multiplied when you create diverse teams of employees with differing strengths.

Create Employee Performance Goals 

Employee strengths will play a vital role in the goal-setting process. Employee performance goals are short-term objectives that an employee is expected to meet within a specific period of time. They can be used to achieve success in many different areas, including:

  • Productivity
  • Efficiency
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Continued Education
  • Compliance
  • Revenue

For best results, individual employee goals should capitalize on strengths, contribute to the employee’s career path, and align with company objectives. Involving the employee in this step can help improve collaboration and make goals more attainable. To make employee performance goals attainable, consider the value of “SMART” goals. These goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Set Objectives to Reach Desired Outcomes

Goals are generally broad in nature and can be difficult to measure. By setting specific objectives that define how employees can reach their goals, you can narrow the scope and identify specific steps to help make goals more attainable. Set objectives by identifying the employee’s responsibilities, determining the resources that will be required, creating a step-by-step plan, and establishing how the goal fits into company objectives.

Create a Development Plan

The development plan works as a way to pull together individual employee goals and objectives with organizational goals and objectives to work toward the ongoing cycle of performance management. An employee development plan should begin with an analysis of the employee’s intended career path and their current role in the organization. Then, a plan can be created to develop the skills, knowledge, and attitude most likely to promote success. An employee development plan will encompass the goal, the steps needed to achieve success, required resources, and an achievable timeline.  

Integrate Frequent Check-ins for Coaching and Feedback

One of the biggest downfalls of performance reviews is long periods between assessments and the failure to offer useful feedback. By integrating frequent opportunities to measure progression with specific data, you create new chances to provide feedback. With behavioral science and professional development tools that rely on specific data points to measure performance and improvement, the development plan can be altered as needed to achieve success.

Annual performance reviews typically increase anxiety in employees and the HR professionals performing these reviews. Frequent check-ins designed to identify areas for potential improvement create a different experience for both employees and supervisors. Since all team members are working toward a united goal, new ideas can be a collaborative event for increased performance levels.

The Benefits of Employee Performance Planning

Performance planning is the pivotal launch of the cycle of employee performance management. By investing in employee performance, companies have a chance to create a system that will work to recruit talented employees and help them build long-term careers. Employee performance planning provides benefits for employees, teams, and the organizations they work for. 

  • Employee performance planning aligns with employee desires for career development opportunities.
  • Performance improvement and success is based on the present and the future.
  • The holistic approach of performance planning and management evaluates the relationship between employees and the organization.
  • The process is a cycle that supports ongoing performance improvement for both employees and organizations.
  • Appraisals are incorporated into the planning process for improved results instead of a performance review.
  • Employees are more engaged because they have a purpose within the organization.
  • Employee performance planning can align with team goals and company goals.
  • Increased opportunities for employees lead to higher retention rates.

Embrace Employee Performance Planning for Better Results

Personal development drives team development and company performance. By making employee performance planning and performance management a part of your employee development process, you can improve employee engagement and align employee goals with company goals. The result is high-performance teams with a desire to reach organizational objectives.

Team members who have high self-awareness and a willingness to adapt to the needs of the team are the secret ingredient of high-performance teams. Employee performance planning can help managers create plans that coordinate individual employee goals with team goals. By using measurable data to identify employee strengths, you can create dynamic teams for improved collaboration and performance. 

RallyBright provides a number of team-based performance development tools to help your team members better understand their personalities and likely behaviors in different situations, and pinpoint the areas where they can make high-impact improvements. To learn more about how Rallybright tools measure data to help employers understand employee strengths and performance levels, schedule your free demo today.