Setting Goals, Scope and Reporting Expectations in Performance Improvement Plans

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by Rod Dunne on November 10, 2011

in Creative, Human Side

If you are a supervisor within an employee performance management system, you understand the importance of performance improvement plans. A performance improvement plan is a formal agreement that is designed to facilitate discussion between a staff member and their supervisor or direct manager.

If you have staff members who need to improve, then follow the tips in this checklist and cover all of your bases for the success of your organization and your staff.

Note that your use of formal documentation (e.g. appraisal forms and employee satisfaction surveys) can help explain what areas of performance need to be improved and what measures will be followed to ensure that these activities are improved by your employees.


Supervisors can decide at their own discretion which staff members need help and which staff members do not. Your primary goal with the plan is improving business performance by improving individual employee performance and ensuring that an employee attains their own level of improvement.

Goals: Have You Clearly Defined Key Performance Indicators for Employees?

The key to improving employee performance is setting goals. No employee performance improvement plan is complete without clearly defined goals.

In fact, you should not even start a performance plan unless you can point out the goals you want your employee to reach by a specific date. When you set goals for your employees you will keep them motivated by constructively teaching them how to improve on specific areas of operation they may struggle with. For example, time management tools and software may be used to track and analyze workers productivity (e.g. number of bug fixes per hour). As a supervisor such data is invaluable for identifying productivity improvements within your staff in a consistent and fair manner.

You should state specific key performance indicators that you want the employee to work on and cite examples of the problem in the plan. When you state key performance indicators examples, you should follow these examples with their current performance and follow current figures with work performance expectations for the future.

You should clearly explain that the expectations should be met on a constant basis and they should always be reasonable.

Reporting: Do You Have Performance Dashboards to Should Progress?

Another key element of a performance improvement plan is the performance dashboard. It is easy to write out a plan and tell the staff member where they need to improve. This plan is nothing but a piece of paper unless you meet with the employee regularly to review improvements in specific areas.

When you set goals, you want to praise your employees for attaining the goals and give your employee more attention when they do not. After you identify resources that will help your employee improve you need to use performance dashboards to verify the support is working.

Larger companies will try  using performance management software for tracking, analyzing and reporting dashboard data. Smaller firms often resorts to fairly standard spreadsheets (ask your human resource personnel for details).

Performance dashboards let supervisors measure a employees past and current performance so you can see if they are consistent. Most dashboards are freely available to organizations (as online templates) and they normally contain a core set of key performance indicators that you can measure.

Some packages also let you customize these indicators so you can personalize the program to meet your needs. My preference has always been to customize the reports structure & content using the elements from freely available templates online. You should include all of the key performance indicators you have discussed in the goals section of your plan on the report so you get the statistics you need to predict future trends.

When you print out these reports, you can give your staff concrete stats on their performance so they can see their improvement or their digression visually.

The Big Picture: How Can You Improve Business Performance With a Performance Plan?

An employee’s output and their overall performance affects the organization as a whole. If you have staff members who are already struggling to meet their goals you need to keep an eye on these employees so it does not affect your organization’s production and profits.

A plan will ensure that you are doing as much as you can to see acceptable performance levels in every department. If one department is struggling more than another, you can find the root of the problem and solve it. If the problem is just employee laziness or skills, you can identify the members and decide if they are right for the organization.

Check for dependencies between different teams and departments as part of your ‘big picture’ overview. These dependencies can have a major impact on individual team performance should make sure the bottlenecks or problem teams/team members are correctly identified.

My post on using business process improvement tools goes into more details regarding techniques and approaches for how to make subsequent productivity/performance gains.

Measurement: Is Balanced Scorecard Performance Measurement Being Used Appropriately?

Balanced scorecards are designed to align business activities so that the vision of an organization and the strategies they use are working towards the same goal. You need to make sure your scorecard uses the right indicators so you can use it for full strategic planning and measurement.

It should be a framework to your organization and help executives execute their strategies so internal business process, customer satisfaction, growth, and financials are all addressed.

A corporation is made up of employees at different pay grades. So when you are managing your organization, one unfocused employee can affect the production of a whole department. Identify those employees who need improvement and take time to develop a performance improvement plan so your organization can succeed. Remember that your balance scorecard is there to provide consistent evaluation of employees.

Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on Product-ivity.com. This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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