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Performance Management Plan

Performance Management Plan: Be Focused

“Performance Management Plan” is the fourth article in our series on performance management. Here we discuss the importance of focus in any plan to improve performance in the workplace.

The focus we emphasize here is one on desiredresults, but not just any results! It’s all well and good doing something well, but you also need to ensure you’re doing the right things well. There are numerous other factors to consider and control when focusing on results.

These should be addressed in any effective plan so we offer some guidance below.

This article is part of our series on How to Motivate Employees to PERFORM. Knowing how to motivate employees is one of the most important aspects of a manager’s job. As important though, is the need to manage the factors that contribute to that motivation, and to create the conditions for people toperform and realise their potential. Our tool to help you achieve these management skills is the ApexPERFORM model. It stands for:

  • P – Potential
  • E – Expertise
  • R – Results
  • F – Focus
  • O – Opportunities
  • R – Resources
  • M – Motivation

Elements of a Performance Management Plan

In our previous article: “Benefits of Employee Training: Seeing the Results”, we discussed the relationship between results and performance management. Results achieved are an indication of performance, either previous or current. The first part of a performance management plan is to review and assess results achieved in terms of previous goals. These provide the measure of success, answering the question: how do we know if performance has improved? The results of previous and current performance then become the springboard for the second part of the plan.

This second part of a performance management plan is forward-looking, with a focus on future goals. It may contain complex ideas and information but essentially, this part of the plan should do two things. Firstly it should express what goals are desired, and secondly it should state how they will be achieved. These may relate to individual, team or wider organizational goals.

Success in achieving these goals will depend upon several things, such as resource availability, timing or external factors. However it will also depend on the capability, attitude and application of people. The performance management plan must address any issues relating to the needs of the people who will be working to achieve these goals. Bringing the two elements of the performance management plan together helps to create clear, realistic goals and objectives. Reviewing the past and targeting the future provides a call to action. However, success in that action is much more likely if the plan is both SMART and SHARP.


So a good plan should be both a call to action but also a blueprint for success. It should have clear goals and objectives, developed both from past performance and future needs. It should be clear on what needs to be achieved, and on how that can be done.

Defining your goals as SMART is one of the most effective ways to help you clearly define what needs to be done. A common version of this popular planning tool suggests you ensure stated goals are: Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant; and Time-bounded. When developing a performance management plan you might also find it useful to think about SMART as meaning: Specific; Meaningful; Ambitious; Resourced; and Time-bounded.

To help you clarify how to achieve the plan’s goals, we suggest using our SHARP tool. Ask youself:

  • Are your goals Simply stated?
  • How will you achieved them?
  • What Actions are needed?
  • Are they Reviewed regularly?
  • Is Progress being made?

For more on these planning tools see our article SMART Goals: Being SMART and SHARP.

Performance needs Focus

Individual performances, whilst possibly being good in themselves, can be counter-productive if they don’t contribute to the wider goals of the team and organization. Performance needs focus. To realize potential, expertise needs to be aligned with resources, opportunity and motivation. These are then focused on the goals that will deliver results. Anything else might be seen as just “busy” work, and this will probably neither motivate, nor enhance performance.

If you want to know how to motivate employees, make sure your performance management plan focuses on goals that are worthwhile and challenging. This is much more likely to motivate, and thus ultimately lead to better performance.

Don’t forget though, that a plan is nothing unless it leads to action. As Peter Drucker argued:

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

Finally, in addition to a focus on results, an effective performance management plan must be clear about two other factors. Firstly it must identify the resources needed to improve performance, and state how they will be deployed. Secondly it must evaluate where opportunities exist, which will enable individuals to both develop and demonstrate effective performance. These are the next two topics in our PERFORM series.

Where to go from here:


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