Performance Management: Step 1 – Planning


Effective performance management requires a solid collaboration between the manager and the employee. Much of the work is on the manager to start, but quickly moves to the employee to deliver.  This is the first post, in a series of three on performance management, the beginning – performance planning.  Performance planning comes in many forms, I like to sit down and review the team’s mission and deliverables, look at my team and the employee’s – to set:

  • The group’s goals.
  • My expectations for the work of the employee.
  • Linking those expectations to the group’s goals.


Clear expectations have three main components to them; accomplishments, indicators and goals. I usually start with a series of questions to answer to help me come up with a very clear expectation. What does the employee need to produce or accomplish on their job (tangible result)? By when (due date)? How well does the employee need to do it (measurable; cost, quality, quantity and time)? I usually sit down with the my groups plan to ensure the deliverables are linked to the groups priorities. Looking at those deliverable’s, I assess is it within the skills and development plan for the individual employee. Definitely don’t want to set someone up for failure, but you do want to stretch them in order for the employee to develop. Lastly, I sit down with the employee and we work on the defining the deliverable in a way that we mutually understand the deliverable and how this will effect their overall performance. After we are fully committed to the plan, we document it (I tie this to the employee’s development plan and their quarterly objectives and deliverables).

Some of the areas to watch closely

  1. Insuring that the deliverable or accomplish has tangible results that the employee needs to produce. Too ambiguous the deliverable – the results could be not the desired outcome.
  2. Indicators indentify the criteria that is going to be used to verify the desired result. It is an easy way for the employee themselves to track their own progress.  If the desired outcome can not be tracked and measured – then what really is the outcome? Who really knows when it is completed? Some strong areas for indicators fall within time, quality, quantity and maybe even cost. It depends on your situation, but look for as many indicators that will help define how you are measuring the desired outcome.
  3. Goals are another way to help define an deliverable or expectation. A goal is the desired level of performance, ideally demonstrated by the best performers. Goals should be continually increased over time to help the employee to continue to develop. Put goals on this indicators… I don’t know of any organization or team that does not want to continuously improve. One way to help move the employees and the team are being increasing those goals. Watch out for the unobtainable goals – everyone knows that if you are putting them too high and they can never reach them – folks will just do what they can rather than hit the goals.


Make sure that you have everything understood between the employee and yourself. Document those and make sure that you use them in the future, my next blog post, performance coaching. All too often, the discussion happens, expectations are verbally set and maybe even documented – but just sit in someone’s file, on a team site or just filed away – with no one reviewing just to be looked at in series 3 – performance appraisal.